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LIPA: $28M Stella storm costs were misstated; figure now $16.5M

A PSEG Long Island crew is seen at

A PSEG Long Island crew is seen at work on July 10, 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

LIPA on Friday said that an official misspoke when he told board members on Wednesday that the costs of winter storm Stella were $28 million. Instead, the utility said the figure is $16.5 million.

In a statement Friday following a Newsday story about the disclosure, the Long Island Power Authority said chief financial officer Joseph Branca meant to say that $28 million was the amount PSEG Long Island had exceeded the utility’s storm budget thus far in 2017. PSEG operates the system under contract to LIPA.

Branca offered the $28 million figure for Stella in response to a question by trustee Matthew Cordaro about total storm costs for 2017 to date. Branca and another official said total storm costs to date were $57 million, but that figure was also misstated. PSEG financial documents list total storm costs to date of $44.5 million, a figure that puts PSEG 163.6 percent over budget on storm costs thus far in 2017.

(The $57.5 million is a figure that includes other PSEG-managed expenses such as uncollectable accounts and state conservation expenses.)

LIPA said the $16.5 million Stella cost is lower than the previously reported $19 million estimate the utility provided in May because “as the invoices come in from all of the vendors and the costs are actualized, PSEG is able to provide a much more accurate cost of the storm.”

LIPA has applied for reimbursement from the federal government for Stella’s costs, which primarily involved hiring out-of-state workers. Officials say up to 75 percent of the costs could be covered. If LIPA receives 75 percent reimbursement for both Suffolk and Nassau, total Stella costs for LIPA could be reduced by $12.38 million, LIPA said.

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