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Long Island

PSEG Long Island completes $30.6M outage management system

Transmission towers carry power lines through Suffolk County

Transmission towers carry power lines through Suffolk County on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

PSEG Long Island said Tuesday it completed a planned transition to a new $30 million computer system to more accurately track and repair outages, and a separate $11 million system to improve automation and routing of customer phone calls.

PSEG was about a month late installing the new outage management system and missed a $1.1 million incentive payment from LIPA. Nevertheless, said spokesman Jeff Weir, the outage management and voice-response systems are operational.

The outage management system, which helps speed the reporting and repair of outages, is mostly a back-office upgrade that won't immediately be visible to users of PSEG's online outage map. The system replaced an older one long hosted and managed by National Grid -- and owned by LIPA -- that was criticized as antiquated, requiring paperwork orders and maps, and based on old computer language.

Weir said the system lets the utility more quickly and accurately identify outage locations and provide better estimated restoration times to customers, among other things. The budgeted cost of the system was $30.6 million, and PSEG will come in "on or under budget," Weir said.

LIPA had expected that the system would be eligible for a $50 million state grant but acknowledged last month that it was disqualified because PSEG will own the system rather than LIPA. LIPA recently said it used proceeds from new long-term borrowings to cover the costs.

The new voice-control telephone system helps guide customers to services through more sophisticated voice-recognition tools. Customers also can opt for a callback from a customer service representative at a later time or date. Weir said PSEG will come in under its $11.6 million budget for the system.

The voice-control system has been up for about a week, Weir said. Customers can speak commands for requested services such as account balance or to report an outage, and the system will recognize the caller's phone and transfer the request to the proper department.

Weir said the new phone system "creates an easier, seamless customer experience, ensuring that our customers spend less time on the phone" when calling the utility.

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