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.

Helping Pups Strut Their Stuff in Support of Domestic Violence Victims

– Pennie Vakkas, paralegal, Law Department, PSEG Long Island

When people help others, it’s satisfying to know that you have made a positive difference for someone else. Volunteering is important to me because it gives me a sense of community and giving back to that community is extremely important.

Since joining PSEG Long Island five years ago, I’ve been a paralegal in the law department. A few years later, I discovered a local organization called L.I. Against Domestic Violence, which provides a range of services that help over 14,000 Long Island adults and children each year to escape from abusive relationships and build new lives. Domestic violence is more common than most people think and I’ve personally known people who have had to deal with it, which made this organization hit close to home, lighting a fire in me to help.

I’ve been volunteering with L.I. Against Domestic Violence for two years, sitting on the planning committee, as well as charged with planning their Paws for a Cause event, which is held annually at the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts in Bayshore, New York.

Power of One

According to Safe Place for Pets, up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusive partners because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.  This why I just love the Paws for a Cause event, which is a dog fashion show where all proceeds go to support domestic violence victims.

This event takes a year’s worth of planning with lots of meetings, organizing, advertising and securing sponsorships. This year, I was in charge with securing a DJ from 106.1 BLI, a local classic rock station in Long Island, a photographer, as well as securing guest judges, event sponsorship and social media marketing.

Our PSEG community did not disappoint and immediately raised their hands to help support the cause. Daniel Eichhorn, president and COO of PSEG Long Island, along with Suzanne Brienza, director of customer experience and utility marketing of PSEG Long Island, happily jumped in as guest judges, and PSEG signed on as a sponsor for the event, making my job extremely easy. Additionally, PSEG’s employee business resource groups (EBRG) helped secure more PSEG Long Island volunteers for the event, as well as provide branded gift donations to be raffled off.

I’m proud to say that this year’s Paws for a Cause event raised $17,000 and this donation for domestic violence will help adults, children and pets alike get the support and courage they need to leave abusive situations.

PSEG’s Power of One, which honors the volunteer efforts in our organization and in our communities, is enriching and motivating, and I encourage everyone to get out there and volunteer! I found my home with L.I. Against Domestic Violence and, by giving back, you can find your home too. #PowerofOnePSEGLI #PSEGPowerOfOne

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

National Utility Scam Awareness Day: Stay safe with these tips

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November 15 is National Utility Scam Awareness Day, and we’re proud to join forces with more than 100 gas, electric and water companies across the country and Canada to combat scams and scammers.

Today and every day, we want to remind customers to stay alert and pay close attention when dealing with any person or interface claiming to be, or be associated, with PSEG Long Island to avoid falling victim to a scam.

Remember and share these tell-tale signs of utility scams, and know what to do if you suspect you’ve been targeted by a scammer, to keep yourself, friends and family safe.

Knowing the signs:

Scammers claiming to be from PSEG Long Island will often call or email a customer with a warning that service is going to be shut off due to delinquent bills. To rectify this, scammers them tell customers to purchase a Green Dot Money Pak pre-paid debit card or arrange for a transfer via MoneyGram. We’ll never ask our customers to take either of these actions, as we don’t accept payments by pre-paid debit cards or through MoneyGram or similar transfers.

Instead, we offer a variety of payment options to our customers, including through MyAccount, text, phone, direct pay, by mail, and others. Plus, our customers scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive a written notice on their bill at least 15 days in advance.

We also ask customers to be wary of the names on their caller ID. Some scammers have discovered a way to spoof caller ID systems to display “PSEG Long Island,” when in fact the call is coming from an illegitimate service. Not sure if the call is a scam? Any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of a call from PSEG Long Island — especially one in which payment is requested — should call us directly at 1-800-490-0025.

How scammers get your money:

Senior Man Giving Credit Card Details On The PhoneTo actually get the money after demanding a payment in full via a pre-paid debit card, scammers suggest a specific store near near the customer’s home to purchase said card. Scammers then instruct the customer to pay cash in order to put the money on the card, and then provide the number on the card. Once the customer provides the card number, the scammer will receive the funds.

When scammers demand payments via MoneyGram, they’ll ask customers to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online, or to a specified location. The funds go into a fraudulent bank account, available for the receiver to pick up in cash.

What you can do:

Be alert, and look for the signs listed above. Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including Social Security Numbers or debit or credit card information over the phone unless you are certain you are speaking to a PSEG Long Island representative.

Again, if you’re not sure whether a call is legitimate, hang up and call your local police department to report the activity, or PSEG Long Island at 1-800-490-0025.

For more tips on how to protect yourself and loved ones from utility scams, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and be sure to familiarize yourself with our scam page on our website.

Home prep for more than just the holiday season

Family cooking together

With Thanksgiving around the corner, and December holidays on its heels, home prep is top of mind for many of our customers. But in between the decorative tablescapes, front door wreathes and other garnishes, are equally important (albeit slightly less pretty) home projects for the upcoming colder months.

Stay snug and save money with these 10 tips and tricks to keep your home as warm as your heart during the holidays and through the winter.

  1. Remember to use the “whole house” approach. Whether you have a fan for forced-hot air systems, or a circulator for hot water units, all homes need electricity to run heat in some capacity. Combine proper equipment and maintenance–like an energy-efficient furnace–with insulation for best results.
  2. Use insulation. Insulating walls, ceilings, floors, hot air ducts, and hot water pipes can reduce the cost of heat significantly.
  3. Invest in a humidifier. Dry air makes you feel colder than moist air. By maintaining home humidity,  you’ll experience personal comfort at a lower thermostat setting, thus saving money and energy.
  4. Clean your filters. By checking and cleaning the filters in your forced-hot air heating system monthly, air will be able to flow with less strain on your system, decreasing the amount of energy needed.
  5. Weatherstrip the cracks. Caulking and weather-stripping cracks in walls and floors, windows and doors will keep the warm air in, and save you money.
  6. Seal whatever you can’t weatherstrip: Storm windows and doors are another quick and easy way to reducing heating costs. By sealing the cracks, you can save  as much as 15 percent on your energy bills during the winter. Try double-glazing and thermopaning windows to minimize heat escape.
  7. Close your doors. Closing doors in unused rooms allows for heat to circulate in a smaller space, thus warming a room faster. It also stops air from circulating as frequently, which helps reduce heat loss.
  8. Rotate your ceiling fan. Change the direction of your ceiling fan seasonally. By setting it counterclockwise in the cooler months at a slower speed, you can drive warm air down and force cold air to rise.
  9. Consider a programmable thermostat. These thermostats will automatically raise and lower the temperature in your home according to your lifestyle. Homeowners can save up to eighteen percent on their yearly heating and cooling costs by properly setting and maintaining their programmable thermostats.
  10. Use space heaters as a last resort. Portable electric heaters can be costly to operate, and dangerous if left on for long periods of time – opt for alternative methods of heating to save money and keep your family safe.

For additional tips on how to stay warm this winter, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and check out our guide to 66 Ways to Save.

Five years after Superstorm Sandy, a lineman reflects on his work

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Kevin Donnelly, a PSEG Long Island crew supervisor.

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which left parts of Long Island and the Rockaways devastated in its aftermath. Recovery efforts were steady, but damage lingered while the linemen of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and other utilities, worked tirelessly to restore power.

“It was tough,” said Kevin Donnelly, now a PSEG Long Island field supervisor, but a LIPA lineman at the time. “And dangerous. A lot of downed wires, broken poles. You really had to be extra cautious.”

The importance and expansion of safety measures, Kevin said, was his number one take-away after Sandy.

IMG_0640“The conditions were so dangerous, it was easy to make a mistake,” he said. “Thankfully I didn’t have any incidents when working after the storm, but there were some close calls. Since then, the crews and I have really focused on making sure conditions are safe before starting any work.”

This lesson was equally important when Kevin and other PSEG Long Island crew members traveled to Tampa, Florida last month to assist in restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. Upon arrival, out-of-state crews sit through an orientation to learn safety procedures specific to the hosting utility–in this case Tampa Electric (TECO).

“Bird dogs”–employees of the hosting utility–bring you to the work site, Kevin explained, and from there, individuals work with the crew with which they traveled to begin work.

“In the case of Tampa, their voltage was the same, so many of the safety measures and procedures they used were identical to ours,” Kevin said, making it an easy transition.

Traveling to assist other crews is an experience like none other, he continued. Greeted by smiling faces, trays of food, and dozens of ‘thank yous,’ linemen like Kevin are often reminded of the importance of their work.

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Residents of Tampa say a prayer for PSEG Long Island crews after Hurricane Irma.

“People are so happy to see you,” he said. “Just a few months ago when we were in Florida, a woman with her two kids stopped by our crew’s site and brought us a brown paper lunch bag with an apple and Gatorade in it.”

When assisting crews during another storm, Kevin recalls being met with hundreds of Styrofoam trays of hot food for the linemen.

“It really means a lot when you’re there,” he said.

Gratitude is a two-way street. During Sandy, crews from across the country were dispatched to Long Island and the Rockaways to help restoration efforts. Both the linemen and residents were grateful for their arrival.

“I was living in Miller Place and foreign crews actually came to my neighborhood and re-energized my house. My family was pretty happy to see them,” he laughed.

Kevin started working in the utility industry in 1986 as a welder for the Glenwood Generating Station in Glenwood Landing. From here, he went on to become a lineman, braving Long Island’s “Storm of the Century” as his first, in 1993.

“I was an apprentice working out of Riverhead, and a lot of the work we were doing was on Dune Road,” he said. “We were climbing poles, cutting wires down, it was some scary stuff. This was the beginning of my storm experience.”

In addition to Florida, Kevin has also traveled to Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the tri-state area to help restore power to those in need after a storm.

But one of his most vivid storm memories?

“Boats floating down the middle of Bayshore Road,” Kevin said of Superstorm Sandy. “I’ve just never seen anything like it,”

 

Bringing STEM education to the classroom and beyond

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PSEG Long Island President & COO Dan Eichhorn with the 2017-18 QIRT STEM Leadership Program students.


Our newly-appointed President and COO Dan Eichhorn is no stranger to the importance of real-world experience within education. An alumnus of Drexel University, Dan participated in the school’s co-operative program, which blends internship opportunities within its five-year curriculum to help students better prepare for the workforce upon graduation.

Discovering professional upward mobility through education is also near and dear to Dan’s heart. As the son of a utility lineman in Philadelphia, Dan saw his father work hard to support his family and was inspired to do the same. After receiving his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Drexel, he continued his education and received his MBA in finance.

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So, it’s no surprise Dan is now one of the leading forces in PSEG Long Island’s partnership with the Queens High School for Information, Research and Technology (QIRT). The program, which began earlier this week, provides students with a full year of STEM curriculum to hone their problem-solving and leadership skills, while introducing them to fundamentals of electric theory. The program brings certified engineers and other professionals within the company to meet with students face-to-face, about twice a week.

“This all springs from PSEG Long Island’s commitment to community involvement,” Dan said during the kick-off event for the program on Oct. 16. “We are working to strengthen the electrical infrastructure, but also to contribute to the places where our customers live and work. This partnership with QIRT was a perfect fit. We are excited to help these young people achieve their goals and I hope that someday I see some of these same faces as I walk through the halls of our offices. ”

Students enrolled in QIRT often come from lower-income backgrounds and many are the first in their families to attend college, so the emphasis on their preparedness is amplified.

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QIRT principal Carl Manalo, left, and PSEG Long Island President & COO Dan Eichhorn, right.

“QIRT strives to prepare its students for success in college and beyond through technology, community and parent partnerships, and enrichment activities,” said QIRT principal Carl Manalo. “I believe that many students don’t truly know what they want to do until they actually hear someone talk about it. And for students growing up in under-served communities, this may be the first time they get that kind of firsthand exposure to the engineering profession.”

We spoke to two students participating in the program about what they hope to learn, and where they see themselves in the future:

Kenisha Sutton

Antoinette Daley

 

For more photos from the STEM event, click here! And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more stories like this one.