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PSEG LI communications officer leaves the utility company

PSEG Long Island’s top communications officer has left the utility company as the manager of the Long Island Power Authroity electric grid makes performance gains.

Jeffrey Weir, formerly director of communications for the Uniondale-based division of New Jersey’s Public Service Enterprise Group, left the company last week in what one person close to the matter called a “mutual” decision. PSEG declined to comment other than to confirm Weir had departed.

Weir had focused mainly on PSEG’s messaging to customers, including raising the utility’s image and increasing communications during storms.

He will be replaced by Brooke Houston, who joins the Long Island division from its New Jersey parent.

PSEG just last week announced that it had further improved a list of 25 performance metrics as part of its long-term contract with LIPA, but missed a critical measure of the frequency of outages.

But PSEG has shored up customer satisfaction scores in the three years since taking over the utility’s management from National Grid, showing improvement from particularly low marks for communications, one of Weir’s responsibilities.

Part of the metrics for customer satisfaction includes communications with customers. Weir had been the voice of PSEG in media appearances.

But PSEG has had a sometimes contentious relationship with communities outraged about its work installing taller power poles in places such as Port Washington, East Hampton and Eastport, leading to protests, lawsuits and acrimony.

Just this week, PSEG workers began removing one of the largest new steel poles it has installed on the system at an intersection on Route 51 in Eastport where a driver died after his vehicle slammed into the structure. PSEG has declined to comment on the accident, citing potential litigation.

PSEG is also working to manage sometimes-contentious relationships with state and local officials. The utility angered state officials three years ago when it declined to reveal top executive’s pay during a 2015 rate-case. Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) won passage of a bill to force the disclosure, which was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month.

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