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PSEG Takes Over Power On Long Island Effective Wednesday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Effective New Year's Day, the Public Service Enterprise Group -- operator of New Jersey's largest utility in the Public Service Electric and Gas Company – will be in charge of electricity on Long Island.

New PSEG Long Island President David Daly sat down exclusively earlier this month with CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan, pledging he will handle storms better and be accountable to taxpayers.

First with the Long Island Power Company, then LIPA, frustrated and angry Long Islanders have short memories. The final straw was the response by LIPA to Superstorm Sandy.

Amid furious remarks by Long Island residents even Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not mince words about the Long Island Power Authority's handling of Sandy and the snowstorm that followed. Some customers were left in the dark for weeks after Sandy.

"I believe the system is archaic and is obsolete," the governor said about LIPA last year. "The management has failed the consumers."

The Newark-based PSEG won a 12-year, $5 billion contract to take over LIPA, and Daly said the utility has learned from LIPA's mistakes.

"We're checking every area to make sure the punch list is ready to go, and that we are hitting the ground running on day one," Daly said.

Daly told McLogan he has solutions to the problems that have plagued LIPA.

"We are going to freeze rates here for 3 years; continue to maintain outstanding levels of electrical reliability," Daly said. "Keeping the lights on is very, very important to us, as is to improve the storm restoration process."

But residents do not only want their lights on. They have also demanded billing transparency and good customer service and a modern grid. During Sandy, restoration was stalled, as LIPA was awash in antique paper maps.

"We are bringing in a very experienced team -- battle tested during Sandy and Irene," Daly said.

Statistics showed during Sandy, PSEG restored twice the number of outages as LIPA did, and four days faster. PSEG had about half the workforce, and fixed the outages at a third of the price.

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