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Governor Cuomo calls for investigation into utility companies

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Governor Cuomo calls for investigation into utility companies
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Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Monday to create a Moreland Commission, which will investigate utility companies in New York State. As Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman tells us, It's not just the response to Sandy that they'll be focusing on.

NEW YORK STATE -- As the state's utility companies face intense public scorn for their handling of the lead up to and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo approved the creation of a Moreland Act panel that would investigate how to change the state's energy delivery system.

“This is a massive enterprise and it will be disruptive. You're talking about a whole bureaucracy that has to be changed,” Cuomo said.

A Moreland Act Commission is a unique tool that the governor can wield. First created in 1907, the commissions have subpoena power and past investigations have focused on gambling, government corruption and welfare spending. This commission will be led by former New York Attorney General Robert Abrams and Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky. Any changes recommended by the committee would need legislative approval.

Cuomo said, “How do we learn from it? How do we redesign the systems? How do we redesign the power system?”

Cuomo wants the commission to also review the lead up and aftermath of storms Irene and Lee that cut a wide swath of destruction through upstate. Cuomo did call for reform to the state's energy bureaucracy in his 2010 campaign, but says he wants to strike now while the public is focused.

“Let’s do it while we are still in the moment. I don’t want to lose the moment. People are focused now. People understand it, people get it. The legislators get it now,” Cuomo said. “While we are still in the moment, I want to talk about these changes and reforms. Too much time passes, people will move on, they will get on to something else and then it will be hard to get the kind of political will we need to make these changes.”

And Cuomo insists he's focused on taking on the Long Island Power Authority, a quasi-governmental agency he controls.

Cuomo said, “I believe LIPA has been beyond repair for a long, long time. This is about designing a new system, overhauling the old system.”

LIPA and National Grid defended their handling of the storm.

“I feel we were prepared. We were definitely prepared for this storm. We were certainly challenged as the east coast was from Washington up to New England to secure the amount of crews in anticipation of the event. And we never rest on our performance. We always want to strive to improve,” said John Bruckner, National Grid Senior Vice President.

The order creating the Moreland Commission is the governor's 23rd executive order since Sandy hit.

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