"Private school tuition for executives' children, shipping wine overseas, expensive holiday parties -- there is no way ratepayers should be forced to subsidize these things while they are struggling to pay their electric bills," Maziarz said. "How can we even contemplate approving rate hikes when this cloud is hanging over the whole process? We need to get to sort out this mess before National Grid's rate hike request goes one step further."
Maziarz announced that he will be holding an official hearing of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee in Hearing Room A of the Legislative Office Building in Albany on Tuesday, Oct. 19, beginning at 10 a.m., so that committee members can hear first-hand about what National Grid executives plan to do to correct accounting practices at the company. Representatives from the Public Service Commission will also be invited to testify.
"As representatives of the people, we have a responsibility to be their voice and ask the tough questions that need to be asked," Maziarz said.
In responding to media questions about the accounting scandal, National Grid CEO Steve Holliday acknowledged the company's operations in the United States are "inadequate." Maziarz said this needs to be explained more fully.
"If the operations are inadequate, what does that mean?" Maziarz asked. "Are rate hikes the answer? Or should National Grid be looking at more operational efficiencies? There are a whole host of questions that must be addressed before the company can think about justifying a rate hike."
Maziarz also said that he is filing paperwork to become an interested party in National Grid's request to the state Public Service Commission for approval to increase electric rates on New Yorkers by $400 million. The Public Service Commission was supposed to act on the request in early 2011, but Maziarz said, "The timetable for the rate hike must be re-evaluated, not only in light of the questions and answers presented in the upcoming Senate hearing, but also because the PSC and National Grid are launching their own investigations into the matter."