Todd Kaminsky pushes PSEG execs for salary answers

Lane Filler for Newsday

August 21, 2020

Originally published in Newsday on August 21, 2020.

When the State Senate and Assembly held its joint hearing on the response of the state’s utilities to Tropical Storm Isaias Thursday, Long Beach Democratic Sen. Todd Kaminsky had a particular bee in his bonnet that’s been bugging him for a while: the compensation of executives at PSEG Long Island and the fact that no one knows how much they make. 

And PSEG LI President Dan Eichhorn got stung.

Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, asked Eichhorn whether any PSEG LI executives were earning more than $750,000 a year, and Eichhorn replied that they were not. But when Kaminsky asked whether any were making more than $500,000 a year, Eichhorn said the company considered the information “confidential and personal,” at least implying the answer was yes.

But Kaminsky, who was co-chairing the videoconference, wants the actual numbers. The reason he can’t get them is because the law on publicly traded companies only demands the chief executive, chief financial officer and the top three other executives disclose, which with PSEG means the top dogs at New Jersey corporate. 

David Daly, Eichhorn’s predecessor as PSEG LI chief before being promoted back to the main office as PSEG President and chief operating officer in 2017, made $2,272,314 last year. That’s almost exactly what three other top execs listed made. Board chairman and chief executive Ralph Izzo, who sent an “I feel your pain” note to customers during the botched storm response, knocked down $10,888, 227.

Kaminsky has asked about PSEG LI salaries before and had hoped that a state law passed in 2016 that says such information must be part of a utility rent-increase case would make them public. PSEG LI has not sought a rate increase since the law passed, but Kaminsky says the company’s attorneys have told him they believe that even if state regulators get those numbers as part of a rate case, the company would fight their public release.

So Kaminsky says he’ll keep pushing on that front, potentially with legislation demanding such information become public. He’s unhappy that it will be ratepayers’ money rather than PSEG profits, which pays those executive salaries, that will fund any reimbursements to Long Islanders whose food or medicine spoiled thanks to extended outages. 

And he wants to know, as so many Long islanders do, why LIPA wasn’t making sure PSEG was ready for a storm.