By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- A state panel probing the electric utilities' response to Superstorm Sandy has recommended instituting tougher penalties for poor-performing power companies.
In a preliminary report unveiled Monday, the Moreland Act Commission said the state should create an easier way to revoke a utility's certification while beefing up the fines that can be levied on them.
The report concludes that the Public Service Commission, which regulates New York's utilities, doesn't have enough power or staff to properly watch over the companies.
"I don't believe the (Public Service Commission) is really a regulator," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said after watching a presentation on the report. "And I don't believe these utilities are really regulated entities."
Cuomo appointed the commission in November following Superstorm Sandy, which caused more than 2 million power outages in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. The panel was created under the state Moreland Act, giving it broad subpoena powers.
Most of the commission's initial recommendations focused on the Long Island Power Authority, a quasi-public entity that oversees the electricity system in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The report recommends privatizing LIPA with investor support, though it remains to be seen what would happen to the authority's $7 billion in debt.
Cuomo said he requested the initial report in advance of his State of the State address, which is scheduled for Wednesday.