PSEG Long Island President Daniel Eichhorn.

PSEG Long Island has reversed course and now says it will reimburse customers up for food and medication that spoiled during power outages following Tropical Storm Isaias.

The electric company initially said customers would not be reimbursed for perishables following the storm, despite other utility providers in the New York Metro area offering a similar program. But the PSEG-LI reimbursements will only apply to those who lost power for 72 hours of longer.

“We recognize that losing power in August, together with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a hardship for many of our customers,” PSEG Long Island President and COO Daniel Eichhorn said Monday. “Given the unique combination of circumstances, we believe the right thing to do is to expand our claims process to ease the burden on the customers most impacted by Tropical Storm Isaias.”

The storm knocked out power Aug. 4 to more than 420,000 of the utility’s 1.1 million customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties and the Rockaways, some for more than a week. Many proved unable to call, text, or access the website of the utility after the storm due to a related communications failure that sparked outrage across LI. 

“I am pleased that PSEG-LI heeded our call to give ratepayers the reimbursements they deserve — and it is the least they can do,” said New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “While the policy should be inclusive of more customers and more generous, this was a just result and a rare victory for the average taxpayer against a powerful utility.”

Residential customers who file food spoilage claims of $150 or less must include an itemized list while those filing claims of more than $150 must include both an itemized list and proof of loss, such as cash register tapes, store or credit card receipts, canceled checks, or photographs of spoiled items.

Customers will also be reimbursed up to $300 for prescription medications that spoiled due to lack of refrigeration. Customers must provide an itemized list of the medications and proof of loss such as a pharmacy prescription label or pharmacy receipt identifying the medicine.

Commercial customers applying for reimbursement must supply an itemized list of spoiled food and proof of loss, such as invoices, inventory lists, or bank statements. Customers will have until Sept. 16 to file claims. Reimbursement is expected to take up to 60 business days.

“Thankfully, PSEG has done the right thing, listened to its customers and expanded its claims policy for those who experienced prolonged power outages following Tropical Storm Isaias,” said U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). “I hope that this announcement signifies PSEG’s willingness to make the changes desperately needed to learn from Tropical Storm Isaias and better serve Long Islanders.”

Lawmakers said customers should act fast.

“It’s clear that PSEG was not prepared to respond to this storm, and I am convinced that PSEG still does not have an accurate handle on how many people actually lost power and for how long,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “I am urging every resident who was affected to fill out a claim as soon as possible.”

Customers can apply for reimbursement at www.psegliny.com/claims. The reimbursement claims cannot be processed over the phone. 

Related Story: Tropical Storm Isaias Wreaks Havoc on Long Island

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