National Grid Ends Gas Moratorium

NEW YORK -
national grid moratorium
(Andrew/Flickr)

National Grid is ending its moratorium on natural-gas connections in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s threat to revoke the utility’s license to operate in Downstate New York.

Under the agreement, National Grid will immediately resume connecting new natural-gas customers for the next two years. Within three months, the company will present a long-term plan for providing gas to customers in the area.

The company had enacted the moratorium last spring, claiming it did not have adequate supply to connect new customers without approval of a new pipeline, which has been rejected by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Elected officials have accused the company of holding customers hostage for the pipeline.

Last month, under orders from the New York Public Service Commission, the company announced it would connect more than 1,100 customers affected by the moratorium – those who previously had gas but whose connections had been interrupted for two years – but was keeping in place the moratorium on new customers.

Then, earlier this month, Cuomo gave the company 14 days’ notice of the state’s intent to revoke National Grid’s certificate to operate its downstate gas franchise. With the deadline set to kick in this week, the company and Cuomo announced the agreement Monday ending the moratorium.

As part of the agreement, National Grid is paying penalties of approximately $36 million, including $7 million in customer assistance to address hardships resulting from the moratorium, $8 million for new for conservation measures to reduce peak-day gas usage during the two-year period, and $20 million for clean energy projects and businesses in the state.

“Every decision we make is driven by National Grid’s commitment to provide safe and reliable service to our customers, including the decision to implement the moratorium,” said Badar Khan, Interim President, National Grid U.S. “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. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Governor’s office and the Department of Public Service to address these challenging issues.”

“Today it was made clear that we will not allow any business – big or small – to extort New Yorkers in order to advance its own interests,” said Cuomo. “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.”

Local elected officials also hailed the agreement.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch said that “the resolution of the National Grid moratorium is a huge victory for those affected,” and that “immediate discussions should begin to determine a long term, clean energy solution, so that hardworking New Yorkers are not impacted by a future moratorium.”

“This is an overdue solution to a made up problem,” said Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein. “While I am glad to see an agreement was reached, we now need to ensure National Grid quickly lives up to its word.”