WOODBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — You may not be able to reach PSEG Long Island the next time your power goes out during a bad storm.
The utility is considering a “no-call policy” for non emergencies, claiming its system often gets overwhelmed, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.
Eddye Pipio lives alone. The 87-year-old had no power for nearly a week after Tropical Storm Isaias blew through Long Island, although her smart meter indicated otherwise.
“Nobody came to see about us. It was a shame. And then they’re saying, ‘Oh, we helped you.’ But they didn’t,” Pipio said.
At her Woodbury retirement community, struggles are escalating over news PSEG LI is floating a possible ratepayer no-call policy for non emergencies to save the utility’s costly computer and communication systems from overload.
“They should actually have a stand-by phone crew, hundreds of people, perhaps, paid to answer people personally,” Woodbury homeowner Ellen Kamhi said.
“If (customers) can’t communicate that they don’t have power, there’s gonna be big consequences,” State Sen. Jim Gaughran said.
Gaughran’s office has been flooded with letters from anxious ratepayers. Almost half of PSEG LI’s more than 1 million customers don’t have smart meters, which are designed to alert the utility during blackouts.
“We are going to identify additional short-term and long-term initiatives to make sure that we are prepared for the next storm,” PSEG LI President Daniel Eichhorn said.
Eichhorn testified last week that a preliminary plan to head off the overwhelmed system may be to dissuade non-emergency phone calls, texts and emails in the future.
“There definitely is a lack of trust. We are here 20 years and they had no idea that we are a senior place,” Woodbury Gardens board president Ellen Golann said.
State Sen. Elaine Kaplan is demanding a utility toll free hotline number.
“My bill would propose that there would be someone 24/7 to be able to listen to the customers, take their complaint, and find a solution,” Kaplan said.
Added State Sen. Todd Kaminsky: “Especially for Long Islanders who pay some of the highest rates in the country, we need to get this turned around right away. We’re still in the middle of hurricane season and saying ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ is not an effective storm response strategy.”
And now ratepayers are worried they will be stuck paying for PSEG LI food and medicine reimbursements, or even see their bills climb to help fix the utility power grid.
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