Pols Urge PSEG-LI To Refund Ratepayers, Fire Leadership

A PSEG-LI crew member clears Isaias debris.

Long Island lawmakers are calling on PSEG-Long Island to refund utility bills, reimburse ratepayers for spoiled food, and fire its leadership following the electric company’s response to widespread power outages after Tropical Storm Isaias.

The utility has taken heat for refusing to reimburse customers for food that spoiled in refrigerators as other utilities such as Con Edison do after outages, and sending bills while home and business owners struggled to report outages following a communication breakdown. One lawmaker called for the head of PSEG-LI and its oversight agency, the Long Island Power Authority, to be fired.

“The events of the past week have made clear: PSEG-LI has failed Long Islanders,” New York State Sen. James  Gaughran (D-Northport) said. “I am disgusted by PSEG-LI and LIPA’s total failure that endangered our most vulnerable residents. Their failed leadership is unforgivable and [Daniel] Eichhorn, president of PSEG-LI, and [Thomas] Falcone, CEO of LIPA, must be terminated immediately.”

The calls come as tens of thousands of PSEG-LI’s 1.1 million customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties and the Rockaways remain without power Monday morning, a week after the storm knocked out power to more than 420,000 of the utility’s customers. Many proved unable to call, text, or access the website of the utility.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin also called on PSEG-LI’s management and shareholders to bear the costs of the utility’s response Isaias, arguing that ratepayers and taxpayers should not penalized with increased rates or taxes as a result. Other lawmakers called for money back.

“A prolonged power outage is difficult under normal circumstances, but in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be disastrous,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) jointly wrote in a letter to the utility. “Not only is it vital to have air conditioning available during the hottest month of the year, but internet access is a necessity to clock in for work and to visit with doctors from the safety of one’s home. Because of these hardships, we urge you to offer our constituents who have endured outages lasting more than 24 hours financial relief in the form of a refund on past bills.”

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.

PSEG-LI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Related Story: Tropical Storm Isaias Wreaks Havoc on Long Island

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