LIPA/PSEG heat pump program under review

A Coram retiree who spent a frustrating two months trying to navigate a low-income PSEG scheme to replace her old heat pump expressed relief on Thursday after a new system was installed at a price she thought it fair: $2,800.

Perhaps equally gratifying following his complaints, PSEG said on Friday that they were considering altering the schedule.

“We are currently reviewing the activity of the qualified income heat pump program against the assumptions originally planned to determine if there are opportunities to further strengthen it,” said PSEG Long Island spokesperson Ashley Chauvin. . PSEG “will announce any updates as they become available”.

The client, Susan Levine, first detailed her plight in a Newsday article earlier this month. She complained about high estimates that forced her to buy the most expensive equipment on the market, a rebate program that still made her pay $6,700 or more, loan offers she didn’t want and licensed installers specializing in insulation, not heat pumps. Inefficient backup heat from her old system cost her $22 a day while waiting for a new system, she said, doubling her daily usage.

In the end, PSEG helped Levine connect with a qualified installer and arranged for her to get an $11,200 system for $2,800. She credited the Newsday story and an investigation by State Attorney General Letitia James’ office for helping.

“The heat works well, but the process is horrible,” she said. She said she thought the process had been made easier for her ‘because I was a pain in the ass’, but said her concern was for other low-income customers who might not be fighting as well. strong.

PSEG ‘must do much better’, she said. “The program does not work.”

A new heat pump system was installed at Susan Levine in Coram by HVAC Plus of Great Neck last week.
Credit: Susan Levine

PSEG’s Home-Comfort Plus program uses a $4.5 million settlement reached by the Attorney General last year following an independent investigation by National Grid, to fund 80% to 100% of the cost of the systems for those who qualify as low income. Newsday reported that just 20 customers received rebates on heat pump purchases in February, subsidizing 40% to 80% of their systems.

The attorney general’s office said it would “continue to work with LIPA to ensure the program operates as intended.”

PSEG manages the Long Island Power Authority’s electrical grid.

James, in a statement, said she was “pleased the program is fulfilling its commitment to help low-income New Yorkers and that this client [Levine] finally gets the service she needs and deserves.

LIPA said last week that it was “evaluating data received on customer participation and rebate totals to ensure the program is operating as intended. If our review reveals that project costs are unreasonably high, we will investigate.” LIPA “may review the sizing of discounts over the next year”.

Levine cautioned clients who may face the same difficulties as her to study their contracts, avoid loans and not sign anything until they check carefully and are comfortable with it. the wording of the contract. She also recommended that PSEG create standards for the program so that clients are not faced with the large number of daunting decisions and variety of estimates she has made.

Michael Nikfar, owner of HVAC Plus of Great Neck, whose company installed Levine’s system, said he thinks uniform pricing and program standardization would be “almost impossible” given the breadth of installers, products and homes on Long Island. “It’s the consumer’s responsibility to know who they want to hire,” he said.

In Levine’s case, Nikfar said, he was able to give him a quote and approval for the discounts in a short time, and had the system installed in a week. He tipped his hat to Levine as a “difficult customer”, but added, “Looks like she was going through hell to get a system.”

Ryan H. Bowman