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11/16/12 8:02am
11/16/2012 8:02 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Legislator Wayne Horsley, left, blasted the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid on Thursday for hiring out-of-state electricians.

Suffolk County lawmakers blasted the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid Thursday, accusing the utilities of looking for out-of-state help instead of hiring out-of-work local electricians during Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.

At a press conference in Hauppauge, Legislator Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), along with other members of the Legislature and representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25, said they attempted to arrange for nearly 400 licensed electricians that live locally to work with LIPA, but said the power authority never returned their phone calls.

“They were ready to work,” Mr. Horsley said. “Somehow or another, there has been a decision not to use these electricians.”

Mr. Horsley said the county had discussions in 2011 with LIPA and National Grid about hiring local electricians for future storms after failing to do so during Tropical Storm Irene’s aftermath. Prior to that storm, Mr. Horsley said IBEW workers had been called upon to help out in other storms.

Mr. Horsley said it was unclear why LIPA didn’t hire local electricians this time and said he believed it was “morally wrong” not to hire “homegrown” workers.

“They know where the streets are,” Mr. Horsley said. “They know where the poles are. They know where the intersections are when a light is down…They could have been putting our system back together again and they could have been helping our citizens who are cold.”

Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) agreed and said ratepayers could have also been spared from picking up additional hotel and meal costs.

“We have guys here on Long Island that could go back to their own homes where they could eat their own meals,” she said.

Legislator John Kennedy (R-Nesconset) called on New Jersey-based Public Service Enterprise Group to commit to hire local workers during emergency situations. In December, the LIPA Board of Trustees approved a contract with PSEG to manage the operations of the electric grid on Long Island.

PSEG will replace London-based energy company National Grid in January 2014.

“We can’t afford to sort this out then,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We need to know their commitment and their willingness to engage these electricians so we’ll no longer have any of this nonsense.”

Officials from PSEG and LIPA weren’t immediately available for comment.

Read more in the Nov. 22 issue of The Suffolk Times in both our print and electronic editions.

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12/15/11 3:54pm
12/15/2011 3:54 PM

The Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees approved on Thursday a contract with New Jersey-based Public Service Enterprise Group to manage the operations of the electric grid on Long Island.

PSEG will replace London-based energy company National Grid, which took over the contract  in 2007 after purchasing KeySpan.

Before the contracts between LIPA and PSEG become effective, approvals are needed from the Internal Revenue Service, the state Attorney General and the Office of the State Comptroller, officials said.

The current contract for utility services between LIPA and National Grid expires on December 31, 2013.

“National Grid and its predecessor have worked hard serving LIPA’s customers for the past 13 years,” said LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey in a press release. “We thank them for their commitment and look forward to working with them toward a successful transition.”

According to a LIPA press release issued this afternoon, the new 10-year contract requires PSEG to create a “wholly-owned subsidiary on Long Island dedicated to LIPA and its 1.1 million customers.” PSEG is expected to assume the operation of LIPA’s system on January 1, 2014.

Some of the reasons why LIPA has chosen PSEG as the new service provider include offering the lowest cost and best value for LIPA customers, as well as committing to cost control, efficiency and customer satisfaction.

“Partnering with PSEG for the operation of LIPA’s transmission and distribution system under an improved business model provides the best value for our customers while also providing greater transparency and tighter controls of all activities and costs,” said LIPA Board Chairman Howard Steinberg.

LIPA has set up the website, www.ourLIPAfuture.info, to provide updates about the transition with PSEG.

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