Officials demand state probe of PSEG performance

Originally published in Newsday

State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) speaks Wednesday at a news conference outside PSEG's Melville office where he and other officials called for a state investigation into the utility's performance during Tropical Storm Isaias.

State and local officials pounced on PSEG Long Island Wednesday, demanding state probes into the utility's communication failures the day before when Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power to more than a third of its customers.

From Albany to Hempstead, officials expressed outrage and demanded answers to the widespread inability of PSEG customers to get through to the company to report outages and receive estimated restoration times. PSEG has spent hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars improving outage management, automated communications and smart meters intended to limit outages and improve customer response. 

Earlier Wednesday, state Sen. Anna Kaplan joined Sens. Todd Kaminsky, Jim Gaughran and Kevin Thomas in calling for Attorney General Letitia James to investigate PSEG’s response. Kaplan (D-Great Neck) said constituents have called her office continually since the outages began Tuesday to express their frustration with PSEG’s reporting system. One 59-year-old man was “literally crying” after trying for hours to reach the company, she said.

“The big frustration is they are not able to reach PSEG,” said Kaplan, after a news conference with the other legislators outside the utility's Melville call center. “But PSEG actually sent emails to people telling people their bill is due tomorrow, and they should pay it and make sure it goes through.”

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