On September 16, 2013 the League of Women Voters of Southwest Nassau, held an open public meeting on the question of “Future Power Shortages – and Seeking Answers.”
With responsibility for the deliverance of electricity now shifting from LIPA to PSE&G, a New Jersey-based firm, on January 1,2014, we invited Mr. John O’Connell the Division Manager of PSE&G, to speak to us about the kind of improvements we can expect from PSE&G.
He said that Customer satisfaction, reliability and communication are top priorities in the PSE&G code. He went on to share information about the present situation and where they are going from here.
To answer any questions about how they got this contract, they got the contract by competitive bidding. It was not handed to them. Mr. O’Connell went on to say that they will only be involved with the electricity not the gas. National Grid will continue to handle the gas operation. Consumer electric bills will come from PSE&G and the gas bills from National Grid. Under the present contract, LIPA owns the assets, but under an enhanced contract, being considered, that will probably change, within four years, with more decision making going to PSE&G.
Right now, PSE&G is inheriting an aged system that was good for its time, but they will be bringing in advanced technology to better handle storm problems. They will be investigating the present circuits and looking at how to improve them. They will also look at selected areas to perhaps put some lines underground. They do know that the circuits need stronger poles. They are instigating a policy of doubling the efforts on pruning trees to make them less susceptible to falling. At the present time, the utilities have the say about the poles, but the municipalities have the say about the trees. They will be working to coordinate their efforts. New equipment and stations that are being put in will be raised to lessen the impact from storms.
Regarding present personnel, Mr. O’Connell said that National Grid people in the electrical function of the company will be transferred to PSE&G, and the option will be theirs. All people in the gas function of National Grid will stay with National Grid.
Mr. O’Connell emphasized that communication is vital to customers, and there will be different forms of communication available to reach them, and for them to reach us. During, and after Sandy, the lack of communication and information was extremely frustrating, and at times down right dangerous. No pun intended but we were left in the dark in too many ways, and for too long. We are all aware that there is a lot of room for improvement in preventive, recovery and communication in the present operation of this public service. PSE&G says they have a track record of doing better. We will be watching.