In the latest salvo in the ongoing natural-gas war, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has threatened to revoke National Grid’s downstate operating license due to its "reckless disregard" for its customers, Crain’s reports.
The war began in May, when the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rejected a proposed $1 billion natural-gas pipeline under New York Bay because of possible damage to the city’s waterways. Environmentalists applauded the move as the state tries to wean itself from reliance on fossil fuels. The next day, National Grid announced it had stopped processing new applications for all residential and commercial gas hookups. The utility maintains that its gas capacity is maxed out and it could not guarantee uninterrupted service to existing customers if construction on the pipeline was blocked or delayed – hence the moratorium on new hookups.
Cuomo and other critics have argued that National Grid was essentially using its customers as hostages in an extortion attempt to get the pipeline built, and never seriously investigated energy alternatives. Noting that the utility is legally obligated to provide "adequate and reliable service" and operate in "the public interest," Cuomo charges in a new letter to executives of the British-owned corporation that it operated with "reckless disregard" for its obligations. He gives the company 14 days to advise him of "considerations" he has overlooked or "present meaningful and immediate remedial actions."
The warning is part of the escalation in recent weeks in the governor's response to National Grid's moves, which have included denying service to thousands of business owners, residents and builders in Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island that had been counting on natural-gas connections. Last month, under orders from the Public Service Commission, National Grid began supplying natural gas to nearly 1,000 customers who had earlier discontinued their accounts and had been denied re-connection under the moratorium.
Con Edison has imposed a moratorium on new gas hookups in southern Westchester County. National Grid provides gas to Brooklyn, Staten Island, and most of Queens, and Long Island.
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