PSEG won’t shut off power to Shinnecock Indian Nation amid growing arrears

The Shinnecock Indian Nation on Monday breathed a collective sigh of relief after PSEG Long Island said it would forestall shutting off the power to more than 120 late-paying tribal accounts, some of which are seeking access to arrears forgiveness programs.

Shinnecock Indian Nation members and tribal offices had accumulated arrears of around $169,000 on electric bills through March, PSEG said, as some tribal economic development projects remain stalled by state litigation and a tribal leader researches potential tax overpayments to the utility.

Tela Troge, a tribal attorney and director of health and community services, said the nation last week faced shutdown of electric service not only to customers who rely on electricity for lifesaving health equipment but also to government offices and functions, such as a warming shelter and food pantry.

“We made a minimum payment so we didn’t get shut off,” said Troge. The tribe is fighting costly state litigation over its Sunrise Highway monument/billboards, she said, while working to get other projects, such as a gas station, hotel/convention center, cannabis initiatives and a reservation casino, underway.

Meanwhile, Troge said she is researching how much tribal members and government have made in past tax payments to the utility to see if the nation could be due a refund. Tribal members are exempt from taxes on purchases, but utilities, retailers and others rarely recognize the exemption, she said.

“We’re being heavily taxed by PSEG,” Troge said. “I’m asking them to refund taxes incorrectly assessed.”

The Long Island Power Authority said only one Shinnecock member […]

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