“National Grid’s moratorium on gas service to new and existing homes and businesses is completely unnecessary and unacceptable,” Sen. Addabbo said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
National Grid is facing millions of dollars in penalties for failing to connect existing residential customers with natural gas as required by the Public Service Law and was directed to immediately connect more than 1,100 customers that were previously denied service, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
The utility has claimed that there are gas-supply constraints in the northeast, and it is unable to provide utility service without a new pipeline. Since the State vehemently opposes the proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (a.k.a. Williams) Pipeline program for the Rockaway Peninsula, Nat Grid customers are feeling the brunt of the standoff.
“It is the fundamental responsibility of our utilities to provide reliable service,” Cuomo said. “National Grid has acted in bad faith throughout this process—first by denying over 1,100 eligible customers with service and now by failing to fulfill its core responsibility. Today, National Grid is being ordered to immediately connect those 1,100 customers, and I have directed [the Department of Public Service] to expand their ongoing investigation to include potential negligence in not preparing for the months ahead. Make no mistake, New York will hold National Grid accountable.”
National Grid officials said the utility is “obviously disappointed” in the order.
“We stand by our analysis and there are very real gas supply constraints in the northeast. In the meantime, we have been working to identify unprecedented temporary solutions to help mitigate this situation, and will immediately begin connecting the more than 1,100 applicants who have been identified in the order,” National Grid said in a statement. “With the current regional natural gas capacity constraints, long-term guaranteed supplies are still needed to connect customers and to maintain the safety and reliability of the gas system for all customers.”
For months, State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) has waged his own war of words with the utility that he said has denied service to many of his South Queens constituents. In September, Addabbo introduced legislation to ensure residents are able to access service from gas and electric utilities that may have a monopoly on service in a community; a second bill would create a task force to study backup energy in New York where the provider is unable or unwilling to provide such service.
The senator has said that a utility company with a monopoly and refusing to provide essential service to a resident or business must be held accountable.
“National Grid’s moratorium on gas service to new and existing homes and businesses is completely unnecessary and unacceptable,” the senator said.
On Friday, Addabbo noted that he “stands by” Cuomo’s decision.
“Victims of Superstorm Sandy, businesses, seniors and others should not be held hostage by Nat Grid, because of their unfounded, self-imposed service moratorium. I am hopeful the utility company complies with the Governor’s order and does the main job it’s franchised to do: provide gas service, before the harsh winter weather days are upon us,” Addabbo said.