PSEG unveils new utility program

Residents concerned about costs and energy efficiency


Utility 2.0, an updated power program that the Public Service Electric and Gas company (PSEG) said would cost about $200 million, will begin its implementation stage in early 2015.

After reviewing the Long Island Power Authority Reform Act, PSEG Long Island proposed this plan officially on July 1. The main goal of this plan is to implement energy efficiency measures, distributed generation, and advanced grid technology programs for the purpose of providing customers with tools to more efficiently and effectively manage their energy usage and utility bills, and improve system reliability and power quality, according to PSEG.

Michael Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewables for PSEG, said at a public hearing in Garden City on Aug. 20 that they want to improve reliability of customer service and keep service cost-efficient for our customers. “Trimming trees, for example,” Voltz said. “A majority of storm issues are caused by downed trees, which cause power outages. We also plan on improving our storm response. We looked at communications efforts and stepped up our response times in restoring service.”

During the first three years of Utility 2.0, on July 1 of every year, PSEG Long Island will provide updates to plans, making them available to the public.

More specific goals included are a programmable thermostat expansion, which would reduce energy remotely on a Wi-Fi based system, a residential home energy management system, which are customized brochures sent out to help individual customers compare energy savings, and energy conservation for hospitals. PSEG would work directly with each hospital’s chief financial officer to provide capital for building improvement projects.

Rich Thomas, the executive director of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, an advocacy group for communities, spoke at the public hearing on behalf of his committee and its chairman, Arthur “Jerry” Kremer, a Long Beach resident and a former member of the state Assembly.

“The Long Range Plan begins an important conversation about the economic and environmental future of Long Island and parts of New York City,” Thomas said. “The plan provides an encouraging start and we offer the following thoughts on affordability and reliability to help improve the draft plan.”

Thomas said that the premature closure of the Shoreham nuclear plant has contributed $5.6 billion in debt to LIPA’s balance sheet. This translates to, “$2,074 for every man, woman, and child living on Long Island. For a family of four this cost is over $8,000” from principal alone.

In general, residents appear to support PSEG’s plan as long costs are considered and energy efficiency continues to be the main goal.

“We commend the state for embarking on this Long Range Plan to address Long Island’s current and future energy needs," Thomas said. “This is not the time to slice and dice the plan to accommodate some group that opposes a particular form of energy. We need broad based solutions to our energy needs and not narrow minded and restrictive approaches to solving our power problems.”

To participate in the public hearing and leave comment, visit, or call the Department of Public Service’s Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120 until Aug. 29.