Planning a seamless transition

PSE&G to replace LIPA on Jan. 1


Damage to power utilities caused by flooding in Hurricane Sandy and the associated problems in the aftermath of Sandy prompted Lynbrook resident Joe Kolodny’s interest to help ensure that preventive measures are implemented prior to the next storm.

That interest spurred Kolodny, a member of the League of Women Voters of Southwest Nassau County, to have a representative from the New Jersey-based utility company Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) to explain what changes will take place as they take over for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) on Jan. 1.

John O’Connell, a division manager at PSE&G, spoke at the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library on Sept. 16, about what residents should know concerning the takeover and the utility company’s plans has for improvements in technology and communication, among others.

“LIPA has subcontracted management of electric to service providers and National Grid has been managing the electric assets on Long Island and will continue to manage gas service,” he said. “As of Jan. 1, 2014 our 10-year contract will begin and we will oversee and make management decisions about how the electric will operate on Long Island.”

Reliability has been a big issue since Sandy hit last October, O’Connell said. “We’re making improvements to our technology and plan to implement an interactive voice response system at our call centers so a lot of good information can be provided to our customers,” he said. “Beyond technology, we’re also focusing on looking at what other companies are doing and their results so we have goals that drive us to do better each year, as well as hardening our stations so storms have less of an impact.”

Lisa Daniels, the Democratic candidate for L.D. 7 attended the presentation and said she looks forward to upgraded service. “I hope they have a seamless transition and provide better service, communication and preparation for storms,” she said. “I also hope they further energy efficiency and sustainability programs throughout the county.”

As part of PSE&G’s contract, a price freeze for electric bills will be in effect until the end of 2015, O’Connell said. The company will also be unveiling a new user friendly website and social media campaign, as well as inspecting and replacing various utility poles across Long island in the next few months. “We have a team who has been working towards this transition for the past year and a half,” he said.

Hewlett resident Bernard Hochman said he thought O’Connell was very knowledgeable and he looks forward to transition. “The emphasis on improving communication through technology seems to be very encouraging,” he said. “I’m confident [PSE&G] will be an improvement but in the end we’ll have to wait and see.”