Update: State Sen. Jim Gaughran said Sunday that he wants the chairman of the Long Island Power Authority and the president of PSEG-LI ousted from their jobs because of the utility’s response to Tropical Storm Isaias.
He sent letters to Ralph Izzo, chairman of the Public Service Enterprise Group, parent company of PSEG-LI (Public Service Electric and Gas), which serves Long Island, and Ralph Suozzi, chairman of the board of the Long Island Power Authority., demanding that Dan Eichhorn (PSEG-LI) and Tom Falcone (LIPA) be removed from their jobs.
But Suozzi wrote in response, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, LIPA shares the concerns of our customers on Tropical Storm Isaias. We will retain independent experts to review the root causes of the communications challenges experienced during Isaias and participate in Legislative
hearings. We respectfully decline your request to terminate our Chief Executive Officer, Mr.
Thomas Falcone. We will follow the facts and propose real solutions.”
Since the storm hit Tuesday, cutting power to more than 420,000 people across Long Island and the Rockaways, anger has been rising against PSEG-LI, over how information has been communicated and whether it was prepared to handle the closed roads, downed trees and lost power.
LIPA is responsible for overseeing PSEG-LI, Gaughran noted, and said, “I am writing with grave concerns over the failure of LIPA’s management to properly oversee PSEG-LI (“PSEG”) and hold them responsible, namely LIPA’s failure to ensure PSEG properly prepared and planned for Tropical Storm Isaias. It is clear that PSEG failed the public with its storm response. As the oversight authority of PSEG, LIPA management has clearly failed the public too.”
He said PSEG-LI employees, and others, including work crews, had told customers not to believe what they were told about restoration of service times. Social media sites are filled with complaints from people saying they were misled about when their service would be restored, often by days.
“LIPA has not done its job. PSEG’s communications system has proven dangerously inadequate,and PSEG executives’ public statements have only compounded the spread of false information regarding the restoration of power, information that is critical for vulnerable populations including seniors and medically fragile. PSEG’s failure to plan and failure to perform are intractably linked to a failure in oversight by the executive leadership at LIPA.”
In his letter to Izzo, Gaughran wrote that ” While hardworking crews from across the country are working 16-hour shifts around the clock to restore power to Long Island, the executive leadership at PSEG-LI has been asleep at the wheel. I am astonished at just how wholly unprepared PSEG-LI leadership was for this storm. I hope that PSEG takes this issue as seriously as the public does, and will hold PSEG-LI’s executive team fully accountable, beginning with the termination of Mr. Eichhorn.”
The state attorney general is investigating the utility’s response to the storm and other investigations are expected to get underway.
The possible effects of the demands for the ouster of the executives on a proposed settlement between LIPA and the Town of Huntington are unclear.
LIPA has been demanding a huge reduction in the assessment of the Northport power plant, one that lead to large tax increases for everyone in Huntington, but especially those in the Northport school district.
The Northport school board accepted a settlement, which must now be approved by the Huntington Town Board, and the first public forum to discuss the settlement is scheduled for Monday night. LIPA had been insisting on a settlement decision by Tuesday but the town board scheduled a second forum and a vote later in September.
LIPA spokes people were not immediately available for comment.Letter to PSEG
Letter to LIPA
Thousands Without Power in Huntington; LIRR Service Restored