New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has issued a report on the New York State Power Authority. The report examines NYPA's finances, money transferred to support the state budget, and expenses related to employee benefits and travel, including a private jet.
"The state regularly relies on NYPA for budget relief, which could pose future challenges for NYPA's ability to deliver low-cost power," DiNapoli said. "New Yorkers pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country and need the rate relief that NYPA could provide if it appropriately focused its resources. This report also reviews executive and travel expenses incurred by NYPA."
This year's state budget authorized a payment of $90 million from NYPA to the state, continuing a long history of diverting NYPA funds to cover state expenses. Such payments - more than $1.2 billion in the past decade - may have been a factor in NYPA's recent request to increase transmission charges paid by customers statewide.
DiNapoli's review found that 35 percent of NYPA's 1,636 full- and part-time employees earned $100,000 or more, reflecting 48 percent of NYPA's total compensation. Of those, 58 employees earned more than $150,000. By comparison, just 14 percent of state public authority employees as a whole earn more than $100,000, and only 8 percent of state employees earn as much.
In addition to offering employees participation in the state retirement system and a deferred compensation program, NYPA spent $2.4 million on employer matches for a separate 401(k) program in 2012, and provided non-contributory health and life insurance benefits for some retirees.
The largest public power utility in the U.S., NYPA operates 16 generating facilities statewide, runs low-cost power allocation programs, promotes energy efficiency and is a key player in the state's efforts to enhance its electrical infrastructure. For 2012 fiscal year, NYPA reported $2.8 billion in annual revenue, $2.6 billion in expenditures and $1.75 billion in debt.
According to DiNapoli's March 2013 "Public Authorities by the Numbers" report, public authority debt has jumped to nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars, as New York relies on authorities to close state budget gaps or to borrow on its behalf, without voter approval. Currently, New York has 1,169 public authorities, including 324 state authorities and their subsidiaries, 837 local authorities, and eight interstate or international authorities.
Public authorities' spending and activities generally are not subject to the same independent review, oversight and reporting requirements as state agencies. The comptroller's audits of public authority spending have revealed numerous examples of deficient contracting practices, poor expenditure controls and inadequate oversight.
DiNapoli's review of NYPA is one of a series of reports to showcase activities of public authorities, strengthen government oversight and improve public access to information on public authorities.
For a copy of the report, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/pubauth/NYPA_btn_2013.pdf.
For a copy of the March "Public Authorities by the Numbers" report, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/pubauth/public_authorities_btn_2013.pdf.