NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s new fallout from a natural gas moratorium. Charges of questionable and unfair pressure tactics have been levied against National Grid.
As the number of customers left helpless soars, a Brooklyn councilman has called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to immediately find a new gas supplier, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.
“I’ve been a hostage now for three months because I can’t get a gas line,” Coney Island store owner Magda Perez said. “They told me, I can’t answer. You gotta speak to your Congress people.’ I don’t understand that. Why do we have to complain to the Congress people. Why?”
Perez said she thought she was lucky when she lost the lease for her deli, Mermaid Prime Meats, and found a new location on the first floor of an apartment building across the street.
She was wrong, because the company that supplies the gas, National Grid, told her she was out of luck because there was a gas moratorium, which means no hook-ups. She was told if she wanted service she had to call her local lawmakers. It didn’t matter that every apartment in the building has gas.
“National Grid is a big company. They should be able to give us gas. We pay the bill. We pay it. The congress people don’t pay it; we pay it,” Perez said.
Perez is the latest victim of a gas moratorium put in place by National Grid as it battles the state over approval of a new gas pipeline. Others denied service said they’ve been told the same thing — call your local politician. It’s an apparent attempt to pressure the state to green-light the utility’s project.
Magda’s local politician, Councilman Mark Treyger, said it amounts to political blackmail.
“National Grid is using Magda in a hostage campaign for their campaign for greed, to open a pipeline,” said Treyger, D-Brooklyn. “This is outrageous, arbitrary and capricious.”
Councilman Treyger said if the gas moratorium continues it could affect an apartment building for homeless veterans set to open at the end of the year and one for the victims of domestic violence just getting started next door.
Kramer asked National Grid how long the gas moratorium will last. It turns out, it will end as soon as the pipeline gets the OK.
“Once (the pipeline) is approved, and the project is allowed to proceed, we will begin processing our backlog of 2,600 applications,” a National Grid spokesman said in a statement.
“That is proof of their campaign of greed. Gov. Cuomo, rip up their agreement. Give New Yorkers their gas and give them their consumer justice,” Treyger said.
As Kramer reported on Tuesday, Cuomo has ordered the state Department of Public Service to expand its probe of National Grid and to consider the possibility of ending its monopoly. Councilman Treyger also wants the attorney general to investigate.