NEWSDAY : LIPA to review organizational structure

August 16, 2012 by MARK HARRINGTON AND YANCEY ROY (mark.harrington@newsday.com, yancey.roy@newsday.com)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered theLong Island Power Authority to review its organizational structure to find “synergies” with other state agencies and its contractors, a top LIPA official said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at a press briefing in Albany, Cuomo reiterated his contention that LIPA had “strayed from its original mission” and needs to return to its original duties.

“LIPA basically was supposed to be a holding company and more of a pass-through operation,” he said. “Over the years it grew and it grew and it grew, and it became a whole governmental and political institution — which was just basically functioning as a middle man. And I think we should go back to the original point, which was an oversight-advocacy-holding organization and not just another bloated bureaucracy.”

In an interview after a rare summer trustees meeting Wednesday, LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey said he’d spoken with Cuomo’s office this week and the message was clear. “They are interested in having us look at our organizational structure,” he said, with a directive to find “synergies with our service providers and other state agencies . . . to see what makes sense.”

Hervey described the review as a “natural evolution” for an entity such as LIPA. “Any organization looks at itself from time to time and says, ‘How can we do things better?’ ” Discussions did not delve into possible staff cuts at LIPA, Hervey said.

Cuomo administration officials last week broadly hinted at the moves, saying the “bloated” agency needed “drastic reform.” In a Newsday story, one administration official indicated the state Energy Research and Development Agency could assume some renewable and efficiency duties from LIPA, while the New York Power Authority could help LIPA on power-plant and related issues.

Cuomo’s directives come as LIPA nears completion of a contract to renew availability of existing power sources and eyeing 2,500 megawatts of new power. LIPA is also in the midst of a major transition to a new grid manager in New Jersey-based PSEG, from National Grid.

Margot Garant, mayor of Port Jefferson Village, Wednesday called for a moratorium on approving any new power projects at LIPA until reviews and reform are in place.Port Jefferson recently filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking a probe of National Grid’s market power relating to its Long Island plants. Port Jefferson wants the village plant overhauled. “I think there are so many moving parts to this that the governor’s office weighing in is going to be key,” she said.

LIPA chairman Howard Steinberg didn’t address Cuomo’s directive during his opening remarks Wednesday but later said the current transition to PSEG must proceed without delay.”We’re very focused on the transition — it’s the number one priority right now,” he said. “We’re hopeful we’ll be able to continue forward on the transition and not end up distracted by other changes from the results we want to achieve.”

Categories Port Jeff News Room | Tags: | Posted on August 16, 2012

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