January 21, 2023
My name is Geraldine Maslanka, and my husband and I live in Sag Harbor. We are retired senior citizens on fixed incomes and Long Island Power Authority ratepayers. We support the work of this Commission. We feel strongly that we must end the
fundamentally flawed model of our utility and transition to a fully public model.
We care about this issue because our electric bills are too high and continue to increase. Electricity is like air and water. A fundamental basic need like good health care and decent housing, and should not be subject to profit making entities that do not reinvest the earnings back into the community to provide for the neediest and do its utmost to protect ratepayers.
Our utility should invest in resilient infrastructure, and expand renewable energy. It must also be more democratic and provide meaningful opportunities for community participation.
We need to establish an accountable and representative multi-stakeholder Board that includes, in part, the direct election of members from ratepayers residing within LIPA’s service area. This is to ensure a democratic and autonomous public electric utility system.
We must replace the Department of Public Service with an independent Energy Observatory. This is a body, independent from both the utility and the government, that coordinates the needs of the utility with the needs of the community. Every self-directed public utility needs an independent partner institution to monitor and advise the utility, engage ratepayers, conduct independent research, and support communities in their own efforts for resilience and energy justice.
A restructured LIPA must spend more of its revenues for the benefit of our communities. LIPA should lower utility rates, especially for low-income households, seniors, and small businesses. It should reinvest revenues to enhance resiliency, like burying our lines. And it should improve identification of and service to customers with special needs. We also need a more equitable rate structure and to explore ending power shutoffs for low-income customers who can’t pay.
Finally, unless wanted by the workers, there must be no change to jobs, salaries, or benefits for the 2,500 ServCo employees under LIPA. We must also maintain IBEW Local 1049 workers under ServCo. Do not transition workers to a public sector union.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Geraldine Maslanka and Lee Marshall
6 Carver Street
New York, NY 11963
January 20, 2023
January 20, 2023
To the Legislative Commission on the Future of the Long Island Power Authority:
The requirement by LIPA that Electric Service Companies (or ESCO’s) operate under the LI Choice Program eliminates any monetary benefits to rate
payers that may be achieved with Community Choice Aggregation. This locks Long Island rate payers into paying the highest energy costs in the nation, is anti-competitive, suppresses the adoption of renewable energy on Long Island, contradicts all greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals at the federal, state and local levels and makes us more vulnerable to grid failure from storms and attacks on the grid. It is cynical and disgraceful. I don’t know how they have gotten away with this obstructionist ploy to cover the costs of their prior commitments for overbuilding transmission and distribution infrastructure that has only served the interests of PSEG investors. This must end. Wholesale and retail energy markets need to be competitive. If they are, not only will costs be brought down for rate payers, but we will be able to choose renewable energy for our homes and businesses, direct our dollars to build local energy assets that are more resilient and ultimately create local ‘transactive’ energy markets where people can buy and sell energy with their neighbors. All this will increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to enable municipal energy coops and independent energy aggregators to serve Long Island and create tariffs that encourage small, distributed energy ‘pro-sumers’. Streamlined and standardized interconnection permits and rate structures that reward the full value stack of solar, storage and smart energy management software need to be established. Full public disclosure on all decision making should be required of LIPA on all RFP selections they make. Being able to operate in the dark behind closed doors invites malfeasance. All load data should be made public. Last but not least, LIPA needs to be subject to the oversight of the Public Service Commission and held truly accountable to citizen watch and not be able to regulate itself.
Krae Van Sickle
Co-Founder Drawdown East End
516 769 7877
December 20, 2022
I am a resident of Cedarhurst, NY and I am a LIPA ratepayer. I am writing to support a transition to a fully public utility.
I want to see LIPA led by the people who are most impacted by decisions concerning our energy system: ratepayers, union
workers, municipalities, community organizations, low-income households, and environmental justice communities. Those who use, pay for, and work for the system must have a say in how it runs.
In order to do that, many things must happen:
We need to establish an accountable and representative multi-stakeholder Board that includes, in part, the direct election of members from ratepayers residing within equally apportioned districts within LIPA’s service area. This is to ensure a democratic and autonomous public electric utility system. The Board must be multi-stakeholder in terms of both constituencies and expertise.
LIPA’s mission should be expanded to include climate justice, energy democracy, equity, and greater participation by its customers. This would codify LIPA’s commitment to a new paradigm of energy management in its service area.
We can learn from the range of mechanisms for public engagement used by publicly owned utilities across the U.S. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has citizen review boards that allow ratepayers to be actively involved in giving feedback on specific policy proposals and/or rate increases. Seattle’s public utility has a public advisory council that advises on rates and strategic plans. Austin Energy sponsors a regional science festival to invite diverse youth to learn about the energy sector. And one of the most impressive recent examples of engagement occurred in Los Angeles, where the Department of Water and Power, as a part of developing its plan to transition to renewables by 2035, did a two-year-long engagement process that had an advisory group dedicated to environmental justice.
The existing Community Advisory Board at LIPA needs to be reimagined so that communities are centered in decision-making over the energy system and that sustained public participation is a function of the utility. LIPA has struggled to engage the public across the many different Towns, Villages, and Cities of Long Island and in the Rockaways, fostering disengagement and distrust while perpetuating inequities and vulnerabilities. We must look at the above models for guidance.
Every self-directed public utility needs an independent partner institution to monitor and advise the utility, engage ratepayers, conduct independent research, and support communities in their own efforts for resilience and energy justice. Under a restructured LIPA, there must be clear mechanisms and programs created to ensure community decision-making for energy planning, with proper technical assistance provided. LIPA also has the right and ability to fund, build, own, and operate its own renewable energy systems via bond issuances, which should be explored as a part of the democratic buildout of public renewables.
A restructured LIPA must spend more of its revenues for the benefit of our communities. Rather than continue the decades-long habit of investing in expensive management fees for private corporations, which diverts funds from public use, LIPA can double down on its commitment to invest in Long Island and the Rockaways. LIPA has stated “Eliminating management fees and affiliate expenses saves approx. $100 million annually.” This is a savings of nearly $1 billion over the next decade by opting for operating and maintaining the grid itself.
Instead of providing bonuses to unaccountable management and dividends to distant stockholders LIPA should lower utility rates, especially for low-income households, seniors, and small businesses; reinvest revenues to enhance resiliency; improve identification of and service to customers with special needs such as individuals requiring electricity for medical equipment; sewage treatment plants, and other services that would otherwise create environmental disasters; support community solar, thermal energy networks, and more wide ranging conservation programs; and seek out public-public partnerships that improve service delivery and community resilience. A more equitable rate structure is really vital, and a restructured LIPA must do more to uphold NY's goal of tackling energy burden by ensuring ratepayers don’t spend more than 6% of their monthly income on their energy bills. We should also explore the recent decision by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to end power shutoffs for low-income customers who can’t pay.
Some things should stay the same, however, unless stated otherwise by the workers. There should be no change to the jobs, salaries, or benefits for the 2,500 ServCo employees. LIPA made, and kept, the same promise when it transitioned from National Grid to PSEG Long Island management in 2014. This dedicated workforce is integral to LIPA’s success under any management structure. In the transition we must maintain IBEW Local 1049 workers under ServCo and not transition workers to a public sector union.
This commission was set up to steer Long Island and the Rockaways back on course to the electric utility we need. I urge this commission to stay strong on this path and incorporate the above suggestions to truly reimagine LIPA. These are the reforms needed to build a truly accountable, democratic, renewable and affordable energy system.