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PSEG Long Island temporary housing program spurs questions

PSEG Long Island president Daniel Eichhorn is among

PSEG Long Island president Daniel Eichhorn is among four top utility executives who live temporarily on Long Island while maintaining homes in New Jersey. Credit: /

A state lawmaker and a LIPA trustee are questioning the cost of a PSEG Long Island program that pays for temporary housing for executives and other employees who commute to Long Island from permanent homes in New Jersey.

Newsday reported Monday that four of the five top PSEG executives, including President Daniel Eichhorn, live in temporary Long Island apartments while maintaining homes in New Jersey. Eichhorn, who has been with PSEG Long Island since 2013, said he planned to move permanently to Long Island this year.

Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), sponsor of recently enacted legislation to require PSEG to disclose executive compensation, said, “such housing expenses are not something Long Island ratepayers should be required to subsidize. Again, Long Island’s energy future is being decided not by Long Islanders, but by corporate executives who choose to live in another state.”

PSEG spokeswoman Brooke Houston, in response to questions about the cost of the program, said the temporary housing costs are paid for with the $58 million management fee that PSEG receives annually from LIPA to manage the system. LIPA expenses are recovered from ratepayers.

She declined to answer other questions, including whether the housing benefit eventually expires. “We have nothing more to add,” said Houston.

Houston said Friday that where employees “go on their time off is irrelevant. It doesn’t affect how they do their job.” She said executives are “certainly committed to the community” through participation in nonprofits and in providing “safe, reliable” electric service.

Matthew Cordaro, a former Long Island Lighting Co. executive who in 1993 moved to Nashville Electric as chief executive, said it’s common for energy companies to require new executives to move permanently to the service territory they serve, and to provide a limited allowance for temporary housing.

The requirement to permanently move to the territory is “almost universal,” said Cordaro, a LIPA trustee who emphasized he was speaking for himself. “In Nashville, they gave me three months to permanently move there.”

Cordaro said he was all but certain that LIPA ratepayers were covering the cost of the temporary housing. “I don’t know how they’re accounting for it, but one way or another, it’s getting billed to the ratepayer.”

PSEG declined to say whether employees who receive the allowance are permitted to secure an apartment costing less and pocket the difference.

It’s also unclear whether PSEG managers who benefit from the allowance do so under some form of time limit. Often, companies that offer a temporary housing allowance do so with the expectation that it will expire after a certain number of months or years.

Eichhorn and at least three other top executives have been on the job for up to five years.

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