Cuomo to Nat Grid: Pass the gas

Governor Cuomo announced an investigation into National Grid on Friday for denying gas service to new customers.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered National Grid on Friday to provide more than 1,100 new customers with gas following an investigation into the British-based utility company, which has refused to hookup new patrons amid a months-long standoff with the state over a hotly contested pipeline project.

“It is the fundamental responsibility of our utilities to provide reliable service,” Cuomo said. “Make no mistake – New York will hold National Grid accountable.”

The gas provider, which operates under a state-granted monopoly in Brooklyn, Queens and parts of Long Island, announced a moratorium of new customers in late May — shortly after state regulators nixed a controversial scheme to construct a 23-mile gas pipeline off the coast of Coney Island.

Cuomo’s demands only extend to the 1,100 New Yorkers who the gas provider refused to reconnect after they temporarily shut off their gasoline service, and do not apply to brand new customers, who will remain without gas for the time being.

Many state leaders have accused National Grid of strong-arming the state into green-lighting the pipeline by holding gas customers hostage.

The utility company could face millions of dollars in fines resulting from the investigation — which centers on whether the company properly planned to meet the needs of New Yorkers during the winter, according to the Governor’s office.

Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D-Park Slope) — a frequent critic of National Grid since they launched their moratorium — lauded the Governor’s decision and called on Attorney General Letitia James to further investigate National Grid.

“I applaud the Governor for finally standing up to National Grid and calling them out on their mendacious, disingenuous campaign to deny people natural gas,” Carroll said. “What they are really trying to do is coerce the state into approving the Williams Pipeline.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D–Bay Ridge) also praised Cuomo’s decision, but called for additional action on behalf of completely new customers.

“We still need to determine if there are more eligible residents whose service must be restored and wait for the results of the larger investigation,” Gounardes said.

A National Grid spokeswoman said they company is disappointed in the state’s decision, and it will look into temporary solutions to reconnect customers.

“We stand by our analysis and there are very real gas supply constraints in the northeast,” said Karen Young. “In the meantime, we have been working to identify unprecedented temporary solutions to help mitigate the situation and will immediately begin connecting the more than 1,100 applicants who have been identified in the order.”

Reach reporter Ben Verde at bverde@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–2525.
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