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Long Island

Supervisors object to PSEG emergency plan

Michael and Judy Lande, of Oceanside, lost all

Michael and Judy Lande, of Oceanside, lost all their possessions on the ground floor of their home and severe damage to the house itself from superstorm Sandy. Credit: David Pokress

PSEG Long Island's recently published emergency response plan has drawn the ire of three Nassau town supervisors, who object to its assumption that local governments deputize their own "electricity police" to inspect damaged homes after storms.

In a letter Wednesday to the state Public Service Commission, PSEG and LIPA trustees, the supervisors of Hempstead and Oyster Bay objected to the draft plan's reliance on municipalities to determine whether it's safe to restore power after outages. The supervisors also complained that PSEG Long Island failed to directly notify them of the 1,947-page draft plan's release last week, or of public hearings seeking input.

The PSEG plan "appears as an attempt to turn every Building Department, Fire Department and Police Department in its service territory into a type of 'electricity police,' patrolling for hazardous situations which are clearly beyond municipal control," according to a copy of the letter, signed by Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.

Judi Bosworth, the supervisor from North Hempstead, expressed similar opposition in a separate letter, saying she expected the "ill-conceived" plan by PSEG "will be withdrawn."

Jeff Weir, a spokesman for PSEG Long Island, said, "Obviously this is a draft plan and we are very interested in finding a workable solution that will bring industry best practices and processes to our emergency response procedures."

He stressed that PSEG was "very interested in working with local governments officials to come to a resolution that works."

Creating an electricity police force, Venditto and Murray wrote, would "divert public resources from other, equally important roles" in emergencies and "add an unnecessary bureaucratic layer to the restoration process" that would add to the "blame game" if power restoration was delayed.

Their letter notes that "neither we, nor our offices, had actual notice of the fact that an emergency plan had been drafted or that a public hearing had been scheduled, until after the process had been completed."

Venditto and Murray said they first learned of the new PSEG plan in a Newsday story Friday.

In the story, PSEG said it made clear local governments had jurisdictional responsibility for determining whether homes impacted by flooding and other damage were safe to re-energize. The issue was a major concern in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, when tens of thousands of LIPA customers on the South Shore were without power following floods. Some homes had sustained no damage.

The supervisors have asked that PSEG strike the directive that gives local government inspection responsibilities, and that adoption of the draft plan be delayed until two more public sessions can be held, with affected governments invited to give input before the plan is finalized.

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