Helping Tokyo Utility Sharpen Storm Response as Olympics Near

The pressures and challenges a utility faces when recovering from a major storm are magnified when its service area is hosting a premiere international event such as the Olympic Games. Recently, our leadership team met and shared our storm-tested emergency planning best practices with executives from Tokyo’s electric utility as it finalizes its plans to support the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) serves around 29 million customers through its subsidiary, TEPCO Power Grid. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are expected to bring an additional 600,000 visitors from countries around the world to enjoy 17 days of high-profile, global athletic competition.

Our leaders welcomed TEPCO executives to Uniondale on Feb. 4, where they offered a deep dive into their strategy for success on Long Island. This included:

  • Long-term efforts to strengthen the grid, such as a more robust tree-trim program, an aggressive replacement of aging poles, and a FEMA-funded project to storm-harden more than 1,000 miles of distribution circuits.
  • Extensive education and communications efforts to make our customers aware of how the grid is strengthened and what to do in case of an outage.
  • A storm-proven Emergency Response Plan featuring clear restoration priorities; extensive, organized coordination with all levels of local government; and strong, sustained, multiplatform communications with customers and all stakeholders throughout the event.

“We at PSEG Long Island were honored to be chosen as one of three American electric companies TEPCO’s leadership visited, and we were happy to share what we have learned about emergency planning and storm response in our six years of operations here,” said John O’Connell, vice president-Electric Operations. “The Olympic Games are among the most significant sporting events in the world, and while TEPCO will do everything in its power to continue its record of outstanding electric service, it is essential to know exactly what everyone will do to safely and effectively handle a severe weather event, should it arise.”

“The outcome of the meeting with PSEG Long Island was above and beyond our expectations. In particular, the rules and systems for disclosing power outage information to customers were very helpful for us,” said Tomoo Geshi, general manager and assistant to the president of TEPCO. “Thanks to the meeting, we now have a clearer image of our goal.”

Happy Engineers Week! Here’s how PSEG Long Island’s engineers are shaping our world.

Throughout the week of February 16, 2020, we at PSEG Long Island were proud to celebrate our engineers’ achievements and contributions as part of National Engineers Week.

EWeek, as it is called, is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. The week also celebrates how engineers make a difference in our world.

How do PSEG Long Island’s engineers make a difference in your world? If you live on Long Island or in the Rockaways, it’s all around you.

Engineers work hard to design power line circuits that are safe, reliable and minimally disruptive to your neighborhoods. They determine how to integrate essential equipment into the existing installations at our substations to help ensure there is enough electric capacity for even the hottest summer days. They oversee large-scale projects to implement new, cutting-edge technology to improve reliability.

Engineers are the ones making the plans that will help PSEG Long Island become the electric company of the future. Whether that means studying projections of where electric vehicle charging will be heavily concentrated to ensure our infrastructure is ready, determining the best geographic locations to encourage the development of solar and other renewable energy resources, or planning how to implement new customer-based energy efficiency programs that will reduce the need for new power plants, their expertise will shape the world we will see five years from now.

In some cases, our engineers have gone above and beyond to help shape the world even further into the future through mentorship. Carl Williams, a principal staff engineer in our Distribution Engineering Department, has volunteered for many years with the FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge Robotics Qualifier competition, serving recently as head referee as students and their adult mentors create robots together to solve a common problem.

We are also honored to remember Joseph Schier, an engineer who spent 41 years with the electric company here, and who developed an educational partnership with Cornell and Hofstra universities to give engineering students a six-month immersion in the real challenges and tools of our trade here at PSEG Long Island.

We have more than 150 employees with an engineering job title or role who strive every day to provide our customers with the best electric system with the best reliability possible. We’d like to introduce just a few to you!

Purba Atandrila is a recent Stony Brook University graduate. She joined PSEG Long Island last July and is putting her mechanical engineering degree to use testing transformers and other sensitive equipment in our Substation Maintenance technical group.

Kevin Rodgers is a longtime Huntington resident who has taken his engineering degree and applied it to project management. As a Navy veteran, he enjoys volunteering in the community as part of PSEG Long Island’s Vets employee business resource group.

Nicholas Culpepper has been with the electric utility on Long Island for eight years and is currently manager of Transmission Planning. In addition to designing the electrical system, Culpepper is also a veteran who enjoys volunteering with the Vets employee business resource group.

Are you interested in an engineering career with PSEG Long Island? Please visit https://jobs.pseg.com to learn more.

Stay alert and stop scammers in their tracks

With a recent increase in the number of reported phone scam attempts, PSEG Long Island again urges residents and business owners to make themselves aware of the tactics scammers use to try to steal their money.

Phone scammers have become more crafty and creative in recent months. In many cases, the scammers can change their caller ID so that it appears their calls are coming from “PSEG Long Island.” More than 6,600 calls were reported to PSEG Long Island in 2019, up from 4,088 scam calls reported in 2018. There is usually an increase in scam calls around holiday weekends when scammers know that customers will be distracted from everyday things.

“Phone scammers want their targets to panic so they don’t think clearly,” said Rick Walden, vice president of customer operations for PSEG Long Island, who also said in a news release that the utility never demands immediate payment and does not accept prepaid debit card or bitcoin payments. “If you receive a call about a past-due bill, don’t panic. Look for signs that it may not be legitimate, such as a request for a specific payment type or an imminent threat of disconnection.”

Meet Bruce Sackman. Bruce is a retired federal agent, licensed private investigator, and co-author of two investigative books. Bruce was also nearly the victim of a scam. If it could almost happen to him, it can happen to anyone. Here’s his story.

For more information on scams and how stay vigilant, please visit www.psegliny.com/scam

PSEG Long Island app puts power in my hands

Marco Cucci – PSEG Long Island

Did I pay my PSEG Long Island bill? 

This thought comes crashing into my head as I pull my car into the field parking lot at my daughter’s school.

As a working father with two young children, I’ve noticed my memory isn’t what it used to be — or maybe I just have too many things to remember. What time does the game start? Is it even at this field? Was I supposed to bring water for the team this week? Do I have cash on me? Did I even pay my bills yet? Did I pay my electric bill?

Fortunately, PSEG Long Island has launched a new mobile app for customers who have Apple or Android devices, so I can manage my account on the go. Before I make my way out of the car, I grab my phone, tap on the PSEG Long Island app and log into My Account. I can’t remember half the things about my daughter’s game, let alone more passwords, but thankfully the PSEG Long Island app lets me use facial ID for immediate access. Phew. Looks like I did pay my bill. Now I can focus my attention where it belongs: on my little girl, number 9, ready to go. As both teams hit the field, I am relaxed, knowing that I didn’t miss a thing.

Multitasking has become a way of life for many people just like me. We expect companies to offer multiple ways to do business with them that fits into our busy schedules, on our own time, in our own way, wherever we happen to be. The PSEG Long Island app is just one of many ways my company is leveraging technology to accommodate my chaotic life.

Its powerful features include:

  • Viewing and paying bills
  • Reporting an outage and getting updates
  • Contacting customer service

PSEG Long Island has developed a whole range of high-tech ways for me to make a payment, set up recurring payments and text reminders, view my energy use and report an outage.  Whether I’m using the app, texting PSEG Long Island using the MyAlerts feature, or interacting with the company via social media, I can get things done without having to call and speak with an actual person. 

Another recent PSEG Long Island innovation is the customer service chat feature at www.psegliny.com. It allows me to interact with a customer service representative who will personally resolve my issues or answer questions. Look for the “online chat” tab the next time you’re visiting the website.

Apps are incredible tools that can really help make life easier for us multitaskers. Even if you already use some of PSEG Long Island’s online features, I encourage you to download the new mobile app. You’ll always be one tap away from knowing if you’ve paid your utility bill — and that kind of peace of mind is a real game-changer. 

Download the PSEG Long Island app today!

Celebrate National Cut Your Energy Costs Day with PSEG Long Island.

– Director of Energy Efficiency, PSEG Long Island

You might not think that National Cut Your Energy Costs Day is the kind of occasion an electric company would celebrate, but at PSEG Long Island, we have a lot of good news to share about our customers lowering their bills.

Providing people with opportunities to save through energy efficiency is a key part of our company’s mission. And National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, Jan. 10, is a perfect time to announce that our business and residential customers have saved an estimated $280 million on their bills over the past six years by taking advantage of our energy efficiency programs.

We helped our customers achieve this by offering rebates on more-efficient lighting fixtures and lightbulbs, appliances, refrigeration, heating and cooling systems, other energy efficiency modifications.

These upgrades have saved an estimated 1.6 billion kilowatt hours of energy since Jan. 1, 2014. That savings is about more than cash. It’s about our environment. Every kilowatt hour we save helps reduce the burning of fossil fuels, cutting carbon emissions and helping provide a cleaner, greener Long Island.

The rebates continue: This year we are offering significant incentives for the most efficient air source heat pumps that can save customers even more.

Our energy efficiency programs extend beyond simple rebates. In the past six years, PSEG Long Island residential customers also completed 34,000 Home Energy Assessments to gain real insights about how to upgrade their homes and save money. Through our programs, residents recycled 24,000 old, energy-wasting appliances, sparing them from the landfill. To find out more about our energy assessment tools, visit: https://www.psegliny.com/saveenergyandmoney/homeefficiency/homeassessments.

Business customers also saved money in the past six years by completing 20,000 energy efficiency projects, which earned them a collective $161 million in rebates and incentives. The installed energy conservation measures are expected to save 633 million kilowatt hours in annual energy savings.

Want to celebrate National Cut Your Energy Costs Day in your own home? If you’re a PSEG Long Island customer, start by visiting https://www.psegliny.com/efficiency to discover what we have to offer. Here are a few more simple energy-saving tips you can try today:

  • A single LED bulb will save a household approximately $230 over the lifetime of each bulb. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting accounts for 15% of home electric use. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures will save energy and money.
  • Items plugged into outlets can waste electricity just by being plugged in, even when they’re turned off. This is sometimes referred to as “phantom power.” A simple way to eliminate this avoidable usage is to unplug electronic devices when they’re not in use or use an energy efficient power strip.
  • Using timers and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting to automatically turn lights on and off is another way to save energy.
  • The use of a smart thermostat can save you money on both heating and air conditioning costs by automatically adjusting temperatures in accordance with your schedule.

A Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion

– Andrea Elder-Howell, Vice President – Legal

You might wonder why Diversity and Inclusion are part of PSEG Long Island’s core commitments, and it’s worth asking the question. How much do those values really have to do with supplying electricity to Long Island and the Rockaways?

The answer is: A lot, actually. As the executive sponsor of PSEG Long Island’s Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, I see ample evidence that promoting and maintaining a diverse, inclusive workforce is essential to the success of any business in the 21st century.

We should start by discarding the assumption that keeping the lights on is all an electric utility does. Things have changed since Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse were duking it out over direct current and alternating current.

Yes, “business success” means providing best-in-class reliability, but providing outstanding customer service is more important than ever. New programs need to reach underserved communities. High-tech applications have to be designed and launched to give customers the power to do business with the company with just a few taps on their smartphones. To accomplish all this, we need the best talent—and the best talent is diverse.

Customers themselves are also changing, becoming more diverse, speaking more languages, and expecting more from every company with which they do business.

Nothing stays the same. Everything changes. And any company that does not embrace a diverse, inclusive workforce will be left behind. We embrace diversity and inclusion so that we can have the right people to help us evolve and flourish—and so that everyone feels welcome, appreciated and ready to do their best work.

Demographically, both our customers and jobseekers are becoming more diverse, and every company needs to be able to properly interact with them in order to remain competitive. Here are just a few demographic traits that contribute to diversity:

  • Age: According to a United Nations study, 2 billion of the world’s population will be older than 60 by 2050.
  • Gender: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women comprised 47% of the total labor force. That’s a big difference from even 20 years prior.
  • Multiple cultural identities: In 2000, the Census allowed people to select more than one race for the first time. We are now seeing nearly 7 million Americans who identify with two or more races.

For all of these reasons and more, PSEG Long Island is proud to have a robust Diversity & Inclusion initiative in place. We have more than a dozen Employee Business Resource Groups to bring people together to discuss issues important to them and to celebrate culture. We have a Diversity & Inclusion Council made up of employees from all levels and backgrounds who are finding ways to continue to transform our workplace culture and chart the path to future business success.

The trends are unmistakable: Customers in the 21st century expect more. PSEG Long Island, like any business, needs a diverse workforce with top talent to understand and meet those expectations. I am proud to be guiding PSEG Long Island’s efforts, and I look forward in the future to sharing some of our strategies to recruit and retain the diverse talent we need as we continue to transform the experience of our electric customers.

Superstorm Sandy threw down the gauntlet. PSEG Long Island picked it up.

John O’Connell, Vice President – Transmission & Distribution

Nobody who was on the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012, will ever forget the devastation Superstorm Sandy inflicted across the area. On Long Island and in the Rockaways, the massive storm surge and heavy, sustained winds did unprecedented damage to the electric system.

When PSEG Long Island first began serving the 1.1 million customers in this service area on Jan. 1, 2014, we knew we had a mandate to improve the strength and resilience of the grid, and transform the way that customers communicate with their electric company.

On the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, I want to tell you a little bit about how PSEG Long Island has been living up to that mandate with significant upgrades to infrastructure and communications.

Our employees have been hard at work for almost six years. Each week, approximately 4 miles of the electric system is hardened against storms, 44 miles of trees are trimmed and 120 old poles are replaced.

We took the lessons learned from Sandy and launched several programs to strengthen the grid and improve system reliability. The largest of these has been a storm-hardening project funded through $729 million in funding from FEMA. More than 320 distribution circuits are being upgraded or completed and more than 938 circuit miles have been storm hardened. Crews improving these circuits have:

  • Replaced 24,815 poles with new poles capable of withstanding winds up to 135 mph—which is in the lower range of a category 4 hurricane.
  • Used shorter cross arms on poles to help deflect falling limbs, instead of cradling them.
  • Restrung 2,382 miles of thicker insulated wires to lessen the likelihood a branch will cause an electric problem if it touches the electric wires.
  • Installed 887 automatic switching units to minimize the number of customers that are affected when equipment fails. The units reroute power around the failed equipment, isolating the immediate area where the damage occurred, bringing the lights back on for the surrounding customers.

During storms in 2019, these circuits experienced 42% fewer outages than unimproved circuits thanks to PSEG Long Island’s storm-hardening efforts.

Upgrading equipment is just one way PSEG Long Island has improved the electric system. To further protect against storm damage, arborists from PSEG Long Island’s Tree Trimming program now trim the entire system on a four-year cycle, instead of the previous five-year cycle. They work throughout the year to identify and trim tree limbs in rights of way and along easements that could potentially cause outages during or after a storm. 

We have already completed one full trim of the electric system and are about halfway through the second trim. In 2018 alone, we trimmed hazardous tree limbs along 3,000 miles of overhead lines, reducing vegetation-related outages on those circuits by 45%. We removed more than 11,000 hazardous trees and/or large limbs in accordance with the industry best practice clearance standard. In addition, a new vine mitigation program identified, cut and treated more than 3,000 vine locations.

Superstorm Sandy also revealed the crucial importance of communicating with customers during major weather events. PSEG Long Island has significantly enhanced communications with stakeholders at every level. Communications include:

  • A more responsive social media presence that allows customers to report outages
  • Direct communication with customers via email, automated phone calls and texts
  • Scheduled media updates
  • Coordination calls and dedicated liaisons for the many municipalities within the service area.

In 2018, we launched a new website with a modern, completely mobile design that’s more useful and easier to navigate. Our outage map was updated to include additional information, such as crew location, cause and restoration of outages.  A new, interactive reliability layer was added to the map, detailing the improvement projects in progress throughout the service area. In addition, our customers can now manage accounts, pay bills and report an outage via the Amazon Alexa skill.

The anniversary of Superstorm Sandy will always be a reminder of how severe weather can get. With each passing year, I know PSEG Long Island will be able to report even more improvements that will make Long Island and the Rockaways stronger, safer and better able to recover from whatever Mother Nature dishes out.

Dan Eichhorn shares our story with iHeartRadio’s CEO Unplugged

Did you know that every week, PSEG Long Island replaces 120 utility poles with newer, stronger poles that can withstand more extreme weather?

Dan Eichhorn, our president and COO, recently sat down with Len Berman, cohost of the Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning On WOR 710AM and host of iHeartRadio’s CEO Unplugged, to share some deep knowledge about PSEG Long Island’s mission, the work we’ve been doing to harden our electrical system, and our vision for the future of Long Island and the Rockaways.

Clean energy on Long Island: Looking ahead to tomorrow

– Paul Napoli, Vice President-Power Markets, PSEG Long Island

Providing greener energy has been part of PSEG Long Island’s mission since we started in 2014, and it’s been part of PSEG’s overall mission for even longer. Now that New York’s Legislature has passed one of the most ambitious clean energy standards in the country, that commitment is more important than ever.

Our company has been hard at work charting a path to a clean energy future for Long Island and the Rockaways. We were already on track to meet New York State’s goals through 2025, and we look forward to playing a strong role in meeting the new standards set by the newly signed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

This legislation, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed on June 20, sets a new statewide milestone of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040. Its other requirements include:

  • 9,000 MW of capacity from offshore wind by 2035
  • 6,000 MW of capacity from solar by 2025
  • 1,500 MW of energy storage capacity by 2023 increasing to 3,000 MW of energy storage capacity by 2030

PSEG Long Island is already working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to meet our share of these ambitious goals. We are also planning the transmission and substation infrastructure improvements necessary to carry power from these proposed offshore wind developments.

So where are we today? PSEG Long Island is already committed to supporting 300MW of utility-scale renewable energy projects. Of these, 36 facilities are already operational, including solar farms and two utility-scale batteries that are the largest in New York State. Another 30 clean energy projects are slated to come online this year, including more largescale solar.

We will also be purchasing power from the 130MW offshore wind project that will soon be built 35 miles east of Montauk, NY. When this wind farm becomes operational at the end of 2022, it will be the largest in the country to date.

Now, let’s look at how we plan to keep achieving our clean energy targets. First, we think that offshore wind offers the greatest opportunity to give our customers a cost-effective share of the coming clean energy boom. We worked closely with NYSERDA as the agency developed its request for proposals to construct another 880MW of offshore wind to the south of Long Island. We are pleased to participate in the renewable energy credit pool associated with that proposed project.

To prepare for the increased requirements for energy storage, PSEG Long Island is actively looking at sites for utility-scale batteries. In fact, we already have 10MW of batteries installed and working on the east end of Long Island. We would expect that Long Island would be responsible for about 13 percent of that proposed 3,000MW target, so we are also looking at supporting other emerging energy storage options.

PSEG Long Island is proud to help clean energy flourish. Though we do not own any of the assets being built, we understand the need and we know our customers have a clear desire to reduce their carbon footprint. While the future of energy is ever-changing, we will continue to gaze out at the horizon and make the decisions that provide the cleanest power at the best possible value.

Being a lineman, there’s nothing like it

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As a business manager for IBEW 1049, I have the honor of representing the men and women on the front lines making sure people have power on blue sky days and during storms. I’m a former lineman myself, and know how hard linemen train and work and make personal sacrifices to do their jobs. When the public is asked to stay home during and after a storm, linemen and linewomen report to work, working 16-hour shifts, around the clock, until every last customer is restored.

Today is National Lineman Appreciation Day and I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to thank the men and women dedicated to keeping electricity flowing for their customers every day, in all types of weather conditions.

Our relationship with PSEG Long Island has never been stronger. IBEW 1049 electric workers are proud of the vital role they play in ensuring that customers on Long Island and in the Rockaways have the best-in-class service that they expect and deserve. Behind the scenes, around the clock and 365 days a year, linemen are always ready and available.

We were challenged during the four nor’easters that struck in March. But we did what we do: restore power to customers as safely and quickly as possible. Heeding the call for help from neighboring utilities is a great feeling too. Some of our linemen recently had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico to put the lights back on for people in dire circumstances — helping them take a first step toward rebuilding their lives after Hurricane Maria.

Being a lineman is a challenging profession not only for the men and women doing the work, but for their families at home, sometimes celebrating birthdays and holidays without them. It can be tough, but it is gratifying work. The comradery amongst a crew is incredible and being the one to interact with customers and receive the thanks when we turn their power back on, there’s nothing like it.

– Ron Bauer, Business Manager & Financial Secretary – IBEW 1049