Governor Andrew Cuomo doesn’t like the smell of National Grid’s response to the state’s refusal to approve a new natural-gas pipeline.
“Their argument is they need this new pipeline because they're running out of supply,” Cuomo told reporters at an unrelated press conference, as reported by Crain’s. “The way they dramatize that is by saying, 'We won't accept any new applications.' They have then extended that, in my opinion, to not just new applications but to people who had gas turned off for one reason or another. When they go to turn their gas back on, National Grid won't turn their gas back on. I think they may be trying to increase political pressure to get their pipeline approved. And the way they do that is by creating these situations where people are suffering real hardship.”
National Grid’s moratorium on new gas hookups was put in place in May after the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rejected a bid by National Grid and its construction partner, Williams Companies, to build the 23.5-mile Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, or NESE pipeline, that would have brought Pennsylvania natural gas to the company’s customers in New Jersey, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island. The DEC ruled that the 17-mile section of pipe under Lower New York Bay would have threatened the city’s waterways. Con Edison has imposed a similar moratorium in parts of Westchester County.
Cuomo has already directed the Public Service Commission to investigate the validity of National Grid's claims that it lacks the capacity to provide gas to either old or new customers. Environmentalists broadly oppose the construction of any fossil-fuel supply lines, while unions and trade groups maintain that they are necessary for the state's continued job and housing growth.
Meanwhile, National Grid is working to persuade the state to reverse the pipeline ban. "We continue to work with the PSC to demonstrate the supply constraints to the region and the need for additional natural gas supply," said a spokeswoman for the company. "We also continue to discuss customer connection challenges and how continuing to connect customers exacerbates the supply shortage and potentially puts the system at risk."
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