Company responds to order from Cuomo
BOROUGHWIDE — National Grid has started the process of hooking up natural gas service to an estimated 1,000 customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island who had previously been denied service, according to the company’s president, who spoke out in the wake of scathing criticism of the company from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“We’ve begun the process of contacting and re-connecting natural gas service to residential customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties who were previously disconnected from our system more than two years ago, no longer accounted for in our supply portfolio and denied re-connection under our current connection restriction guidelines,” National Grid New York President John Bruckner said in a statement issued on Oct. 14.
“We care and are concerned for all customers impacted by this issue, and it’s clear we could have done a better job communicating to this particular segment of customers,” Bruckner added.
On Oct. 11, Cuomo announced that National Grid is facing millions of dollars in penalties for failing to connect existing residential customers with natural gas as required by the state’s Public Service Law. “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,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The New York State Public Service Commission directed National Grid to take immediately steps to connect customers who had been previously denied service.
Earlier this year, National Grid declared a moratorium on new gas service and said it would also be unable to reconnect customers whose gas had been turned off due to renovations or other issues.
The company cited the need for state approval for the construction of a new $1 billion, 37-mile-long gas pipeline between New York and New Jersey that would enable it to increase its gas supply by 14 percent.
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the permit to construct the pipeline.
Democratic Assemblymember Bill Colton, who said National Grid’s moratorium left several constituents in his Gravesend-Bensonhurst district without gas, held a press conference outside his office in August to blast the company.
Colton said Tuesday that his constituents were relieved that Cuomo took action but that people are still angry they had to do without gas service for so long.
“The residents and small businesses were devastated by the decision of the greedy National Grid Gas Company. I am grateful that the New York State Public Service Commission has ordered National Grid to immediately connect over 1,100 residential and small business gas customers that were previously denied service unless the controversial new pipeline was approved by the state,” Colton stated on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Bruckner said National Grid’s goal is to re-connect the affected customers by mid-November.
“Our objective is to contact all customers outlined in the order by the end of this week and schedule a re-connection appointment based on their needs. Our goal is to re-connect the majority of these customers within the mid-November timeframe,” he said.
But Bruckner said National Grid needs to increase its gas supply if it is to keep up with customer demand.
“We’ve been in this business for more than 100 years and there’s nothing we want more than to satisfy every customer request for gas service. Unfortunately, that’s not possible given the current constraints on gas supply,” he said.