Cuomo complains again about power companies, says they’re state-regulated ‘in theory’

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A tree takes down power lines in Long Island. (Neil R. via Flickr)
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Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday once again assailed the state's power companies and what he described as their lack of accountability.

"In theory they're regulated by the state, but not so much," said the governor this afternoon during an appearance on former governor David Pateron's radio show.

In New York State, private utilities are regulated by a state agency called the Public Service Commission, whose five-member board is appointed by the governor's office.

Terms for two of the board's five members expired on February 1, which means Cuomo could make appointments to the board right now.

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The Long Island Power Authority, meanwhile, is a state authority, just like the M.T.A. or Thruway Authority.

As Cuomo noted today, he talked about LIPA reform during his gubernatorial campaign, but, in marked contrast to his approach to the M.T.A., he's neglected to assert his control there (and to associate himself with an unpopular and problematic entity) by appointing members to its board.

Ninety percent of Long Islanders lost electricity during Hurricane Sandy, and LIPA has shown a good deal of ineptitude in restoring it.

All the while, the governor has inveighed against the authority's performance, while minimizing his own role in overseeing it.

He recently created a Moreland Commission to investigate LIPA and other state utilities and come up with recommendations for how to repair them.

He described the commission today as "just a study group, an investigatory commission."

He also faulted New Yorkers for their impatience.

"The storm happened and people want their power on the next day," he said.

Then he returned to one of his favorite topics, the unaccountability of the state's power companies.

"They're basically monopolies, and they're unaccountable," he said. "In theory they're regulated by the state, but not so much, in my opinion. Well maybe you can pull the franchise of a utility. You can't find the last time a utility had their franchise pulled or their license pulled, so where is the accountability?"

"Long Island Power Authority?" he went on. "That hasn't worked in years. I said in my campaign two years ago it should just go away. There's a structure on Long Island that doesn't exist anywhere else."