Thinking outside the box

Sue Jepson, Lead Supervisor for Customer Meter Services, shares her story of a team coming together to assist customers in need.

On August 5, one day after Tropical Storm Isaias battered Long Island, we dispatched Customer Meter Services (CMS) and Gas Field Operations (GFO) to a house fire on Livingston Avenue in Babylon Village.  CMS technician Rich Headley arrived and couldn’t shut off the service at the curb valve because a large tree took down a three-phase electric primary owned and maintained by PSEG-LI.  The three-phase primary ignited and caused the gas service to catch fire.

The GFO and CMS teams made the area safe, but 30 residential customers were without service. These customers were also without electricity due to the downed tree and wires.  GFO made repairs to our infrastructure in the street and gassed the customers back in.  Yet, CMS could not relight the affected customers for safety reasons.

CMS coordinated with our call center, the customer & community team and PSEG-LI.  The call center called affected customers, the customer and community team reached out to PSEG-LI government relations and our supervisors met with local electric system operators to coordinate the electric and gas restoration plan.

But because of the extensive damage on Long Island, PSEG-LI was working in other areas to restore electric service, so our natural gas customers were also without service after four days.

Thinking outside of the box, CMS Supervisors Joe Chester and Will Evers suggested we relight water heaters and any appliances that didn’t need electronic ignition.

So, on August 8, the CMS team set out to relight customers in the neighborhood.  We set up a staging area close by at the Babylon Elementary School and used the parking lot to dispatch and coordinate the efforts to turn on any possible appliances we could for our customers.  Later that day, PSEG-LI contractors also started to restore electric service to the neighborhood.

By the next day, we had completed most of the relights except for the north side of nearby Ralph Avenue, whose residents were still without electricity.

For one customer, not having hot water was impacting his wellbeing. He suffered severe injuries from a crane accident in 2001, and a hot shower helps relieve his pain. To help this customer, field operations set out to move the gas service from inside to outside, which we do when opportunities arise to do so. Lead Supervisor, Rod Penney called to ask us (CMS) to set a new meter once the relocation was complete. Jumping into action were Will Evers to create the new account and Mike Brienza who installed the meter. With the water heater restored, and his home still without electricity, the customer was at least able to use hot water to take a shower and get relief.

This customer, along with other residents, gave many thanks to us for the follow-up and for turning on natural gas service where we could do it safely. This allowed them to take showers for the first time in days, something we take for granted until we’re no longer able to do so.

Thanks to the following individuals for a job well done:

Rod Penney Joe Chester Chris St James
Ryan Rorrison Will Evers Nick Facciarossa
Jimmy Baldwin Mike Brienza Greg Dietrich
Evan Schierwagen Rich Headley Pat Geraghty
Rob Dykstra Doug Fournier Aimee Bowe

And a big thanks to the facilities gentlemen at the Babylon Elementary School for allowing us access to the building.

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