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Commission On Utility Performance During Sandy Holds Second Hearing

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The Moreland Commission on the performance of utilities during Hurricane Sandy held its second hearing Thursday night in the Rockaways. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

When the lights went out in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy, residents said it was Long Island Power Authority that left them in the dark.

"LIPA has not been a good friend to our community," said one resident.

So Governor Andrew Cuomo charged the Moreland Commission with examining LIPA and other utilities after recent storms, like Hurricane Sandy.

Their take on the performance?

"Terrible," said Benjamin Lawsky of the New York State Department of Financial Services, who is a member of the commission. "I think LIPA was, to be frank, pretty awful. That's why the governor has proposed getting rid of LIPA, privatizing LIPA and letting a private company run it, just like a private company runs all of the other utilities around our state."

The commission came to the Rockaways on Thursday to hear from residents who spent weeks without electricity.

The commission has already come up with their own solution: privatize LIPA.

"The only option for change is a complete overhaul of LIPA," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Governor Cuomo said LIPA should be abolished.

Some politicians at the hearing blasted the utility's performance.

"Almost 7,000 people still without power," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

"I wouldn't be opposed to turning off the switch," said State Senator Malcolm Smith.

However, residents at the hearing were not sold on selling LIPA to the private sector.

"Privatization is terrible," said one resident who spoke at the hearing.

"I do think that privatization would definitely be detrimental to us, the taxpayers or the billpayers," said another resident.

LIPA is billions of dollars in debt. Some fear any private takeover would mean rate hikes.

"When a public service transitions to the private sector, it becomes profit-oriented as opposed to people-oriented," said one resident who spoke at the hearing.

"It wasn't profit-oriented. It wasn't people-oriented. If anything, it was disoriented," Lawsky said.

The commission has not released its final recommendations. It has scheduled several more public hearings and will release its final recommendations sometime this spring.

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