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Rockville Centre spars again with PSEG, this time over June outage, and notifies the state

PSEG Long Island crews are seen in 2014.

PSEG Long Island crews are seen in 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Village of Rockville Centre officials, already frustrated with PSEG Long Island over spotty service from LIPA power lines to the village, filed new papers last week with the state, taking issue with the utility’s response to a recent “serious, widespread” outage.

The filing, by an outside attorney for the village, noted that about half the village’s 25,000 residents experienced a two-hour outage at midnight June 28 that also “adversely affected a number of village-based critical facilities as well as customers on life-support equipment,” and some LIRR equipment.

Rockville Centre, which is seeking state intervention for PSEG to consider a route for a new 138,000-volt transmission line to the village to resolve longstanding LIPA connection problems, called the June outage “only the latest in a series of PSEG outages that have occurred during the last five years.” The village’s electric utility has accused PSEG of ignoring or dismissing its complaints to upgrade three high-voltage feeder lines to the village that it blamed for the latest problem. PSEG denied those charges, and plans this month to begin settlement negotiations with the village.

PSEG spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler, noting the village’s utility is “responsible for lighting the homes and businesses that exist within the village boundaries,” said the power outage occurred as PSEG was “making scheduled improvements to one of our circuits feeding the Rockville Centre utility.” PSEG has been in communication with Rockville Centre officials. The village’s electric utility gets the bulk of its power from three LIPA-owned connections to a New York Power Authority hydroelectric facility in Niagara. The village also has a power plant, but depends on the PSEG-managed LIPA connections, which it said have seen 24 major outages since superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

Flagler said PSEG in recent years has developed “several proposals to enhance the load capacity to Rockville Centre’s utility, including a fourth feeder line, exclusively feeding their utility.” Rockville Centre said in its previous filing with the Public Service Commission that the proposals were either not the village’s responsibility or too expensive.

“We have recently met with the municipality to address their concerns, and we will continue to work with them to address the needs of their utility,” Flagler said.

In the letter, Rockville Centre said officials found it “troubling that no one from PSEG contacted the village” shortly after the outage.

Rockville Centre remains “greatly frustrated by the ongoing impacts of PSEG transmission outages in the village,” the letter states. “The fact that the village, to no avail, has complained for several years to PSEG Long Island about poor reliability and the need for system upgrades, serves only to heighten our frustration and disappointment with the poor quality of PSEG Long Island’s service to the village.”

The village has asked PSEG to provide a comprehensive report about the outage, PSEG’s response to it and measures to improve future reliability.

Flagler said PSEG is “committed to determining the root cause of the outage.”

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