Long Island Power Authority trustees Tuesday received their first progress report since PSEG Long Island took over operations Jan. 1, including further details of a fatal head-on collision involving a PSEG truck last week.
PSEG officials reported that the transition from National Grid went off with few hitches earlier this month, including several payrolls for more than 2,200 employees handled by previous utility operator National Grid. The utility has begun a more aggressive tree-trimming effort and a marketing campaign to tell customers that the utility expects to be top-ranked in customer satisfaction in five years.
PSEG vice president John O'Connell said the fatal accident involving a PSEG vehicle on Jan. 16 on Route 24 in Flanders took place after a PSEG substation employee "struck potholes and lost control" of his truck, striking another car head on.
The PSEG truck driven by Michael Pepe, 53, of Bayport, according to police, collided with an SUV driven by Barbara Tocci, 47, of Hampton Bays, who died at the scene. Pepe was briefly hospitalized and there was "extensive damage" to the truck, O'Connell said.
"We take the safety of our employees and the public very seriously and will review the circumstances of this incident once all the facts are known," PSEG said in a statement. "We are deeply saddened by the incident and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends affected by this loss."
Separately, O'Connell said PSEG has been closely monitoring repair work on a New York Power Authority-owned electric cable under Long Island Sound that failed on Jan. 6. Officials said they still have not isolated the location of the failure, which stemmed from leaking coolant oil in the cable casing.
The 693-megawatt cable supplies about half the power to Long Island from New York State, officials said, connecting at a Con Edison substation in Sprain Brook, Westchester County. A backup cable has been electrified to replace it, O'Connell said, and around 3,800 gallons of nontoxic fluid has leaked as a result. Officials didn't say when they expect it to be fixed.
LIPA and PSEG officials said that there were reports of a barge in the area at the time of the failure, and that damage may have been caused by a dropped anchor.
PSEG said it is on schedule to go live with a new storm outage-management computer system in mid-July.
LIPA trustees at the meeting approved the appointment of Tom Falcone as chief financial officer at a $250,000 annual salary. Falcone, a 13-year Morgan Stanley investment banking executive, has not previously worked at a utility nor as a chief financial officer.
Board members said they were satisfied Falcone was qualified for the job, but several agreed with trustee Matthew Cordaro, who raised questions about the process for selecting him.
Cordaro urged LIPA to "adopt a formalized search process for the selection of senior officers that gives the board more advance knowledge and participation."