• December 12, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

Nat’l Grid gas war ends, no pipeline

Cuomo and ultility declare truce, all new customers can hook up

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:45 pm, Thu Dec 5, 2019.

National Grid and Gov. Cuomo have ended a six-month standoff that prevented thousands of new customers in Queens and Brooklyn and on Long Island from getting gas service,

Under the agreement, National Grid will pay a $36 million fine — most of it earmarked to help customers who were harmed by the utility’s moratorium on new hookups.

About 3,000 requests for service have been denied in the downstate region since the moratorium began last June, according to state officials.

“National Grid will pay a significant penalty for its failure to address the supply issue, its abuse of its customers, and the adverse economic impact they have caused,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement.

“We understand the frustrations of everyone who experienced a delay in service during this period and regret that we did not provide more notice or explanation to our customers about the moratorium,” said Badar Khan, interim president of National Grid U.S.

The agreement follows a threat by Cuomo earlier this month to pull National Grid’s license to operate in New York City and the surrounding counties if the utility did not start accepting new customers.

National Grid declared the moratorium last May, days after the state Environmental Protection Agency refused to approve construction of a $1 billion gas pipeline across New York Harbor from New Jersey.

The proposed pipeline would have come ashore in the Rockaways, not far from Jacob Riis State Park.

National Grid said that, without the pipeline, it could not guarantee sufficient supplies of natural gas to the region and, in order to protect existing customers, would no longer provide service at any new customers who applied after June 1.

State officials acknowledged that the demand for gas, long-term, presents a problem. But National Gird had not explored alternative means of meeting the demand — including bottled gas delivered by rail and trucks, as well as conservation — before locking out new customers.

The moratorium threatened to slow down large-scale real estate development in the area and left regular homeowners in the lurch.

“A lot of Sandy victims were denied. That really got to me,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), whose district includes the Rockaways and who noted happily that the settlement makes no mention of the pipeline.

Under the agreement, National Grid has 30 days to contact residential and small business owners who requested gas service.

It has 45 days to begin hooking up large-scale customers.

An independent monitor is to be appointed by the Department of Public Service to oversee National Grid’s compliance.

“We have worked hard to identify an innovative series of alternatives to meet growing demand,” John Bruckner, president of National Grid’s New York operation, said in a prepared statement. “With this agreement, we will present options for long-term supply solutions that ensure our customers have the service they require and desire.”

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