Featured Story

Thiele blisters PSEG, calls for accountability: Power company promises improvements

Reports issued by the office of the Department of Public Service and Long Island Power Authority are critical of PSEG, charging the company with failure to provide transparency and accountability.

PSEG officials are “lining their own pockets with enormous compensation packages, fees and bonuses at the expense of Long Island ratepayers without providing them with the reliable service they deserve,” according to Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor).

Mr. Thiele, who has been a persistent critic of electricity costs on Long Island, issued a statement Monday saying the LIPA Reform Act of 2013, enacted after what Mr. Thiele dubbed a “catastrophic failure of LIPA and National Grid” during Superstorm Sandy, provides no real oversight of the power company.

The Department of Public Service (DPS) is a “toothless tiger with no real enforcement authority over LIPA and PSEG,” he said, and in effect makes PSEG “the least regulated utility in the nation.”

The legislator compared what he sees as a lack of oversight with giving a group of teenage boys car keys and a bottle of scotch.

He criticized LILCO, LIPA and PSEG for promising service restoration in the wake of storms, but power fails to be restored in many areas for days or even weeks.

Dating back to 1985, the vision for LIPA that replaced LILCO was to create an elected LIPA Board of Trustees that would be accountable to ratepayers.

“We should return to that vision,” Mr. Thiele said, proposing that the state legislature should:

• Amend the LIPA statute to provide an elected LIPA Board of Trustees that was promised years ago.

• Provide the New York State Public Service Commission with real oversight authority over LIPA.

• Provide a transparent rate-making process.

• Restore the oversight authority of the state comptroller over third party contracts.

• Implement the creation of a full public power company rather than continuing to contract with out-of-sate or foreign companies.

Mr. Thiele said he and State Senator James Gaughran (D-Huntington) have taken steps in these directions and a bill they passed should be signed into law.

“In the past, we have simply put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “Ratepayers eventually learn the hard way that it is still a pig.”

A response issued by PSEG Director of Corporate Communications Ashley Trager Chauvin was issued Monday afternoon on behalf of the utility company:

“We will work with LIPA and the DPS to address the recommendations in LIPA’s 90-day report and to regain the trust and confidence of LIPA,” the statement said. “We know that real action is needed and needed now. To that end, PSEG Long Island has been hard at work on a number of systems, process and organizational improvements, some of which have been completed with many more in progress. Serving Long Island is a privilege and we will earn that privilege by delivering the service our customers deserve.”