NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — National Grid customers could soon see an increase in their bills.
The Gowanus Canal has been polluted for decades due to dumping from utility companies, and now residents might have to pay for additional cleanup costs.
As the canal started getting cleaner over the years, residents started moving into the area separating Queens from Brooklyn. But there is more work to be done, CBS2’s Nancy Espinosa reported.
National Grid inherited the liability when it bought Keyspan and Brooklyn Union Gas. Now, the company wants customers to pay on average an additional $9.40 per month each year, indefinitely, according to spokeswoman Karen Young.
“It shouldn’t be on the backs of the rate payers,” Rachel Burd, the communications and outreach coordinator for PULP, said.
PULP, which stands for the Public Utility Law Project, said National Grid knew about its responsibility to clean the canal long before it bought the two companies.
“National Grid has not made any provision for paying off their own liability,” Burd said. “We think, for one, it’s a bad moral hazard, for two, it’s a bad precedent.”
National Grid said the rate hike is necessary to modernize gas infrastructure and improve customer service. The surcharge would only be used to pay for the cleanup if the costs exceed the estimates.
Residents near the canal have been putting up with the cleanup process for years, and said the burden shouldn’t be put solely on them.
“I don’t understand why they should be held unaccountable for it,” Pete Omlor said.
Marie Manzo has lived in the area for more than 20 years and said with all the new buildings going up, the developers should be the ones responsible.
“They’ve been cleaning that canal for years now, it’s still not cleaned, give me a break. So why now? Because of the apartment building that went up? It’s all about that? Let them pay,” she said. “I’ll say it again, let them pay.”
The New York state Public Service Commission, which oversees National Grid, will meet Thursday to decide whether to accept the utility company’s proposed rate hike. The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Church Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn.