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Power move: Cuomo fires back at energy company for starving hundreds of Brooklynites for gas

Onishka Camarena finished construction of her Mexican restaurant in Prospect Lefferts Garden in May, but has been unable to open because of National Grid’s moratorium on new customers.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to break up National Grid’s stranglehold over natural gas in Brooklyn last week amid their ongoing war over a hotly contested pipeline, which has left would-be customers without gas for more than three months and counting.

“If National Grid is unable to provide safe, affordable and reliable service to existing customers, or is unable to properly plan so that it is able to serve new customers, I direct you to consider alternatives to National Grid as franchisee for some or all of the areas it currently serves,” the governor wrote in a letter to the Department of Public Service on Aug. 27

The British-based utility company — which operates under a state-granted monopoly over gas service in Brooklyn, Queens, and parts of Long Island — announced a moratorium on accepting new customers beginning in late May, shortly after state regulators put the kibosh on Nat Grid’s scheme to construct a 23-mile-long pipeline off the coast of Coney Island that would transport hydrofracked gas from New Jersey to the Rockaways.

National Grid claims it needs the added supply in order to meet increasing energy demands, but local leaders accuse the gas purveyor of using local businesses as pawns in its power struggle with the state.

“National Grid does not have a supply problem. They have a greed problem,” said Coney Island Councilman Mark Treyger. “They’re holding people hostage in the middle of this bureaucratic tug of war.”

And as the gas company’s moritorium approaches its third month, Kings County business owners are starting to feel the squeeze.

One aspiring restaurateur finished construction of a Mexican eatery in Prospect Lefferts Garden in May, but has been unable to open because of National Grid’s long-running embargo.

“I’m ready to open. I have everything set up and ready to go. If I could get gas, I’d be open,” said Onishka Camarena. “If I don’t get gas I’ll be done. I’ll have to give it up... Everything I worked for is going to be out the window.”

Camerena has pleaded with the energy giant to lift the new-customer freeze and supply gas to El Jeffe — on Parkside Avenue between Flatbush and Ocean avenues — but they’ve instead shifted blame, directing her to the New York State legislature.

“They tell me to contact my state representa­tive,” she said. “For what? My state representative didn’t help me open a restaurant.”

During some peak-usage hours, National Grid fails to meet its demand using its own supply, forcing them to purchase energy from other suppliers, which cuts into their bottom line, according to one local state rep.

“The business model of National Grid — their profit model — is that they want to own the pipes, and control the gas that they are distributi­ng,” said Assemblyman William Colton (D—Midwood). “And they therefore want to build a new pipeline which will cost a billion dollars.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
Posted 12:00 am, September 3, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Jose from Sunset Park says:
Cuomo and National Grid are both holding ordinary people hostage. Build the damn pipeline, we need it.
Sept. 3, 6:40 am
Frank from Furter says:
Within the past three years, the cost of delivery of the gas(what national grid gets paid for delivery-not the actual gas) has gone up 5 fold from about .25 per therm to about $1.25 per therm. I buy my gas NOT from NG but an esco. There is NO supply problem. Its a delivery issue. The state has allowed everyone of the increases.
Sept. 3, 8:26 am
Mike from Rockaway says:
It's a simple matter of greed. Nat Grid is not about whats best for the general population , they are about whats best for Nat Grid. BTW the gas they want to transport originates in Pennsylvania via fracking. Read about what the industry is doing to that state.
Sept. 3, 9 am
Freesia from Park Slope says:
Have these people never heard of raw foods? Why do they think that burning fossil fuels is ok when we’re in a climate emergency?
Sept. 3, 9:02 am
Sam from Bushwick says:
I will blame on our Governor more they have the power to replace National Grid as a supplier. If our governor don't the job right we need to vote them out and vote for someone who will help us.
Sept. 3, 10:39 am
Arguendo Eh from Fulton Ferry says:
Cuomo creates these problems - NatGrid, PSEGLI - then complains when they do what they'll obviously do -- behave as arrogant monopolists. What did he think would happen?
Sept. 4, 8:40 am
Jim from Bay ridge says:
Democrats policies destroy cities in policing,education,nycha,mass transit,and utilitues
Sept. 4, 7:06 pm
Billy from Darmstadt, NJ says:
I'm so happy to hear the struggle your having with the shortage of natural gas and opposing a new pipeline that would be able to fix your problem. Your lack of education on this matter makes me laugh. Imagine eight people drinking out of a margarita with one straw. It's easy for you to turn a switch on and the lights come on. Turn the thermostat up and you have more heat. But not a clue on the fundamentals of how the source of energy is provided. If National Grid turns the pressure of the line up to the existing line it will explode. You fight against it, and now cry about not having it. Pathetic
Sept. 5, 9:54 am
Nelson from Dyker Heights says:
Blame this on the on governor for its bad policy.
Sept. 5, 11:57 pm
catherine Dave from Arverne says:
please put the pipe line or take away the monopoly from National grid to bully. allow another company to come in so customers have another option. As of now we the people without gas are suffering... Please do something about it without further delay.
Sept. 6, 6:58 pm
Luis Zacarias from Brooklyn says:
we need to start protesting this matter in front of the national grid office and Mario Cuomo office this is hurting everyone across the board lets take action
Sept. 6, 10:14 pm
Luis Zacarias from Brooklyn says:
we need to take action on this matter and start protesting
Sept. 6, 10:15 pm
Merlino Fabro from Bay Ridge says:
I am astounded by the ignorance of people opposed to the gas pipeline. We have thousands of buildings and facilities that we are pushing to give up burning oil and to adopt gas heating because of the environmental benefits to air quality and public health. You can't heat large buildings with electricity alone, and even if we could, there is not enough free land in NYS to build the number of windmills and solar panels needed for the "green energy". Where air quality is concerned, natural gas is the green alternative and we need more of it.
Sept. 11, 1:40 pm

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