By MARK HARRINGTON
Updated February 20, 2015 9:05 PM
A state lawmaker from Long Island wants the state attorney general and comptroller back in the process of reviewing contracts of LIPA’s primary service provider, PSEG Long Island.
Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who opposed the original LIPA Reform Act of 2013, introduced two bills he said are aimed at restoring oversight at the downsized authority.
In addition to requiring the review of PSEG contracts over a specified amount, Thiele wants state law to mandate that LIPA trustees be elected rather than appointed by lawmakers. He’s introduced such a bill in the past, to little success.
The original LIPA act envisioned an elected board, but state officials ultimately balked at the notion, settling on appointees of the governor, the Assembly speaker and the leader of the State Senate.
The comptroller and attorney general previously reviewed contracts of National Grid and KeySpan when they operated the LIPA system. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo exempted PSEG contracts from comptroller and attorney general scrutiny in his reform act, saying the scrutiny constituted “red tape.”
Thiele and others say that leaves LIPA and PSEG contracts with less oversight at a time when more is needed. The state Department of Public Service has “review and recommend” authority over LIPA, but no power to enforce its recommendations.
“I’m just trying to again highlight the point that there needs to be real oversight of what LIPA and PSEG are doing,” Thiele saidFriday.Kate Gurnett, spokeswoman for state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, said the office still reviews LIPA contracts of over $50,000. However, the LIPA reform act “makes it clear that we cannot review PSEG’s contracts that they might execute for LIPA,” Gurnett said.
Twice a year, LIPA and PSEG must post on their websites a report of all contracts over $250,000.
PSEG declined to comment and LIPA didn’t respond to a request for comment.