Bills To Regulate LIPA, Offer Lower Insurance Rates For Boaters Approved By Legislature

Fred W. Thiele jr. and Kenneth P. LaValle

Legislation penned by local state legislators this week, one that provides greater regulation of the Long Island Power Authority and the other that would lower rates for boating liability insurance, passed both houses of the State Legislature and are awaiting action by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. on Friday announced that his legislation to provide for greater regulation of the Long Island Power Authority by the Public Service Commission has passed both the Assembly and State Senate. The bill was carried in the Senate by Senator Jim Gaughran and is now awaiting delivery to the governor for final consideration.

According to a release from Mr. Thiele’s office, all service providers who contract with LIPA are required by statute to undergo a comprehensive and regular management and operations audit at least every five years. The audit is contracted by, and issued to, the Public Service Commission. However, the release notes, the Public Service Commission does not have the authority to require that LIPA and the utility take steps to implement any of the recommendations contained in the audit.

Under Mr. Thiele’s legislation, he said, the PSC would have the authority to require LIPA and its service providers to implement recommendations made in any comprehensive and regular management and operations audit where fraud, abuse, or mismanagement is found.

“Millions of customers across Long Island depend on LIPA to meet their energy needs,” Mr. Thiele sais int he release. “The passage of this essential legislation will bring LIPA in line with other utilities across the state and rightfully give the PSC the necessary authority to enforce audit recommendations and protect ratepayers from waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Mr. Gaughran added, “For too long LIPA has operated as a self-policing runaway authority that answers to Wall Street and its corporate interests instead of the 1.1 million customers who rely on LIPA for electricity to run their father’s ventilator and power their child’s school computer. That ends today. This bill will give the PSC desperately-needed authority to regulate LIPA — which holds a monopoly on Long Island’s electrical grid. It’s time LIPA play by the same rules utilities across the state have to abide by. No utility should have the luxury to self-edit reports, doctor state-mandate audits, or ignore PSC’s recommendations.”

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Mr. Thiele also jointly announced on Friday that their legislation to require liability insurance rate reductions upon completion of a boating safety course or an advanced boating safety course had passed both houses as well. The bill is now awaiting final action by the governor.

During the summer months in our communities, boats line the waterways, the lawmakers noted in a release. Pleasure boats provide residents with countless hours of enjoyment. However, they noted, it is crucial to acknowledge the responsibilities tied to boating.

Boaters must be equipped with the knowledge and skill set to safely navigate their way through the water, and there are rules and basic procedures that boat operators must know and observe. This bill would provide owners that complete basic or advanced boating safety courses a reduction in boating liability insurance.

“We are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful maritime regions of the country,” Mr. LaValle said in the release. “The many waterways, coves, inlets and nautical villages attract boaters from around the world. While boating is a summer way of life on the East End, safety remains our priority. It is my hope that this legislation will encourage more residents to take advantage of boater safety courses and in doing so be recognized for their commitment with lower insurance rates.”

Mr. Thiele added, “Owning and operating pleasure boats is one of the most popular pastimes on the East End, and for good reason. However, we must ensure the safety of our residents and visitors and help prevent future avoidable tragedies on the water. This legislation will provide boat owners and operators with a liability insurance rate reduction and ultimately make our waters a safer place for all.”