Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), NY Assembly member and Chair...

Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), NY Assembly member and Chair of Committee on Local Governments, listens during a hearing examining the role and effectiveness of industrial development agencies (IDAs) and local development corporations (LDCs) during a hearing Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, in Manhattan. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Two state lawmakers on Tuesday urged the state Department of Public Service to reject PSEG’s request to keep executive salary information confidential, as the department itself warned the company’s request “may contradict the requirement for its public disclosure.”

The moves follow a Newsday story Monday that found PSEG Long Island filed a legally required 2021 compensation disclosure statement for seven of its top executives, though a public version blacked out all salary and compensation information. 

In a letter to DPS Chief Executive Rory Christian, who also chairs the state Public Service Commission, Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) pegged the law’s origins to a dispute over pay disclosure between Kaminsky and PSEG-LI's former president, Dan Eichhorn, during a 2020 State Senate hearing.

Eichhorn “declined to provide figures for the compensation of executives during that hearing, stating this was personal and confidential,” the lawmakers wrote. “As a direct result of that hearing, New York State enacted Chapter 826 of 2021 to make this information available to the public.”

The lawmakers noted that “as the authors of the law, we want to make it clear that the intent and plain meaning of this law is to require utility providers to publicly disclose executive compensation statements in full.”

At the same time, the records access office for DPS told PSEG in a letter on Tuesday that its request for confidentiality may run afoul of disclosure requirements under the law.

“Please be advised that your request for the confidential treatment of this information may contradict the requirement for its public disclosure,” the letter states, citing two state laws.

DPS told PSEG it was “reviewing your request” for confidential treatment of the compensation information, including exceptions to the state Freedom of Information Law. Newsday on Tuesday filed a request to receive the information under the law.

DPS noted PSEG’s claim that the release of the information could constitute “an unwarranted invasion of privacy,” potentially release trade secrets or cause “substantial injury” to PSEG’s competitive position, but said PSEG must submit a “written statement of the necessity for such an exception” by May 16.

DPS spokesman James Denn said, "We welcome the letter by the sponsors of the new statute that makes clear their intent was to ensure the public release of utility executive compensation information. Their letter will be reviewed ... before a determination is made regarding the utility’s request." 

PSEG spokeswoman Ashley Chauvin declined to comment specifically on the letters. She pointed to the company’s previous statement that it filed a statement disclosing the information to the DPS in accordance with the law, while a separate public copy “with confidential information redacted” was filed with the DPS secretary.

She said the redactions were made on the public copy because the document “contains competitive and confidential commercial information.”

LIPA, a public authority that publicly discloses all employee salary information, declined to comment.

Thiele and Kaminsky’s letter noted the law leaves little question about its mandate.

“The plain language of the bill says the department ‘shall’ post a compensation statement for the Long Island power authority’s service provider, including ‘the names, titles, and duties of all executive officers and directors and the compensation received by each such executive officer and director,’” they wrote. “Therefore, the department should promptly deny this request for confidentiality as it runs counter to the spirit and language of the law.”

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