New York passes flurry of legislation in wake of frustrations over PSEG Long Island storm performance

New York passes flurry of legislation in wake of frustrations over PSEG Long Island storm performance

Joe Mabel from Seattle, US [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons Dive Brief:

New York lawmakers earlier this month passed five pieces of legislation that impose new requirements on the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and its service provider, PSEG Long Island.

The bills require LIPA and PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary of Newark-based Public Service Enterprise Group, to conduct an annual stress test of the system’s reliability, and to disclose executive salaries and lobbying expenses, among other things.

The measures are an outgrowth of continued frustration on the part of state lawmakers over a large-scale power outage last August on Long Island. Final enactment remains uncertain, though, with no indication yet whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign the bills, according to their main sponsor, Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.

Dive Insight:

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., an Independent whose district is on Long Island, championed the LIPA bills. Thiele announced on June 16 the bills had cleared both the New York State Assembly and the New York Senate and now must be transferred over to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then signed in order to go into effect.

Thiele, chair of the Committee on Local Governments, called LIPA’s performance during tropical storm Isaias last August "a catalyst for action on all these bills."

That storm, which hit Long Island on Aug. 4, resulted in 420,000 customers losing power for several days, according to Thiele.

The large and lengthy outage was "avoidable," Thiele contends, writing, in a description of the bill, "proper oversight by the Long Island Power Authority would have revealed the failures of PSEG’s system prior to the storm," according to a summary of the legislative package on Thiele’s official website.

"The failure of PSEG’s outage management and communications systems led to prolonged outages, confusion, and misuse of resources," the summary states.

A key part of Thiele’s legislative package, which he worked on with other lawmakers, would require "service providers of the Long Island Power Authority to successfully complete an annual stress test of all outage management and communications systems." Service contractors that fail to do this could be hit with penalties, that, in turn, would be paid out to customers in the form of rebates.Another bill in Thiele’s package requires public utilities in the state to disclose executive compensation. While LIPA is already required to do this as a public agency, PSEG-LI, which has the service contract, would be required to do so […]

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