PSEG Long Island has added another 1,000 line workers, tree trimmers, and other personnel to Tropical Storm Isaias cleanup efforts as the utility races to restore power to thousands of homes and businesses by Saturday.
PSEG-LI said that it now has 3,000 workers focusing on restoring service to the more than 107,000 customers who were still without power as of Thursday evening. But the utility’s online outage map on its website — indicating as of Friday morning that more than 200,000 customers are still in the dark — now includes the message that “map data may include inaccuracies,” which further frustrated those seeking answers following earlier communications issues.
“While the quantity of outages is lower than those experienced during Superstorm Sandy, the communication problem has been far worse,” Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a joint statement. “Their outage map is not reflecting actual outages, leading residents to wonder if PSEG is even aware of their outage. Further, the new municipal portal which was set up to report critical outages and blocked roads in need of PSEG support failed less than two hours after the start of the storm. The collapse of PSEG’s telephone and text systems have led to a near information blackout. In short, the entire communications system put in place by PSEG was a monumental failure.”
The storm knocked out power to nearly 3 million homes and businesses from New York to North Carolina, according to electric companies. More than 870,000 outages were reported in New York State alone. PSEG-LI reported more than 420,000 homes and businesses — more than a third of its 1.1 million customers on LI — were without power immediately after the storm, which downed about 3,000 trees and limbs across the Island.
“Due to the large number of crews from other utilities brought into our service area before Tropical Storm Isaias, power restoration is progressing faster than can be displayed on the outage map,” PSEG-LI said in a statement. “The map will fluctuate as we refine the data.”
The utility has blamed its telecommunications provider Verizon for the phone, text, and website trouble that hampered customers’ reporting efforts after the storm. Verizon has not responded to a request for comment.
“While we have experienced issues with our communications systems, at no time did these challenges impact restoration efforts,” PSEG-LI said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered the state Department of Public Service to investigate PSEG-LI, Verizon, and other utilities’ response to Isaias. Lawmakers on LI urged the state attorney general’s office to also open a probe. And Nassau County lawmakers plan to question PSEG-LI management on the topic during a hearing scheduled for Aug. 13.
PSEG-LI has said it expects 85 percent of customers impacted by outages to have power restored by the end of the day Friday, with the remainder to be back in service by the end of the day Saturday. Meanwhile, Long Islanders still without power four days after the storm grow increasingly frustrated.
“Still as it was here [Tuesday] in Huntington: Trees down, piles down, lines down,” Paul Biedermann tweeted. “Haven’t seen a single PSEG-LI truck in our area. Just as bad, all communication broken … and no updates! Atrocious.”
Daniel Eichhorn, president and COO of PSEG Long Island and chief customer officer of PSEG Long Island and PSE&G, pleaded for customers’ patience as some head into day five of no power.
“We continue to make progress,” he told reporters during a conference call Thursday. “We know if you’re one of those customers who are still out, making progress if you’re still out, really doesn’t mean that much. We ask for your patience. We’re doing everything possible to make sure we get to you.”
Related Story: For Some, Long Island Power Restoration Will Take Days
Related Story: Long Island Reports Strongest Isaias Gust In NY Metro Area
Related Story: Tropical Storm Isaias Wreaks Havoc on Long Island