One year after Superstorm Sandy laid waste to Long Island’s electrical grids, New Jersey-based energy company PSE&G is preparing to replace LIPA in managing electric systems island-wide.
PSEG Long Island, a fledgling subsidiary of Public Service Electric & Gas, will begin utilities management in Nassau and Suffolk counties and the Rockaways on Jan. 1, 2014. Spearheaded by PSE&G Vice President David M. Daly, who will serve as president and COO of the Long Island subsidiary, the group promises to build a top-ranked national utility service within the next five years, and to focus on accountability, reliability and customer satisfaction.
“What we are doing here on Long Island, we call replication,” said Daly. “We are replicating our storm restoration process. We are replicating our customer satisfaction process. We’re not going to try and reinvent the wheel.”
After two years spent studying the area, PSEGLI has prepared a quarterly timeline for 2014 that is intended to improve customer-provider relations and bolster storm defenses. According to Daly, residents can expect tree trimming across the island to increase by 30 to 40 percent by the end of the first quarter, and the introduction of a call center, an online real-time outage management system, and the raising or walling of substations located in flood zones by year’s end.
PSEGLI will receive a fee for its services, with the potential to earn more directly tied to customer satisfaction and performance metrics. The company has also agreed to a rate freeze until the end of 2015 — and after that, Daly promised, rate stability is key.
“If we don’t do a good job, we can be thrown out,” said Daly. “ … [But] I plan to be here for 22 years.”
The arrival of PSE&G is a major step in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to downsize the much-maligned LIPA after its inadequate response to last year’s storm. Although PSEGLI will not assume ownership of assets held by LIPA, the company will be charged with operation, maintenance and oversight of its electrical systems in a contract due to expire in eight years. National Grid, which formerly held a similar agreement with LIPA, will continue to provide natural gas service for the area.