NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — CBS2 has been reporting on the natural gas fight, demanding answers for businesses and homeowners affected by a national grid moratorium on gas hook ups.
On Tuesday, a Brooklyn homeowner caught up in it all, is powerless no more.
There was a spring in Julie Levin’s step as she pushed her four-month-old daughter down a park slope street toward the brownstone that only a month ago had no hope of moving in to.
“You don’t know what you’re going to do… You put your money into a house you can’t move in to it,” Levin said.
She is just one of thousands of New Yorkers victimized by gas company National Grid, who has been refusing to install gas hook ups – even to pre-existing customers as it battles with the state over a new gas pipeline.
Levin had the gas in her home turned off to do renovations. When she asked National Grid to turn it back on they said no way.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer demanded answers from Gov. Cuomo on behalf of Julie and many others.
“If your’e saying that are current gas clients who are being denied gas that’s a health and safety violation. No utility should be doing that,” the governor said.
“So what are you going to do about it,” Kramer asked.
“The Public Service commissioner should investigate,” Cuomo replied.
The governor ordered the Public Service Commission to probe Levin’s case. They did, sending her a letter ordering National Grid to connect the gas “within five business days.”
“It’s been a nightmare. It’s been exceptionally stressful and if it wasn’t for me advocating and then finally meeting you I don’t know if I would be in the place I am today,” Levin told CBS2.
Levin is one of the lucky ones but there are still 2,600 people in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island – senior citizens in turmoil, small business owners losing money – who National Grid won’t give gas to.
Local officials took to a street protest Tuesday over National Grid’s ongoing position of refusing gas hookup service to thousands of customers as a pressure tactic toward approval of a new pipeline.
Public advocate Jumaane D. Williams condemned the utility’s moratorium on new hook-ups by one of the region’s largest energy companies as more victims come forward and angry lawmakers demand an end to the company’s exclusive monopoly.
Several new National Grid victims also came forward Tuesday at the press conference at the company’s Brooklyn headquarters.
Marcia Kramer asked Williams and other officials about Julie’s case.
“National Grid is mendacious… I believe they can turn on the two thousand or so customers that they’ve denied… they can turn on their gas tomorrow,” Assemblyman Robert Carroll declared.
“They are holding folks hostage,” Williams added.
The Public Advocate says National Grid has an obligation to supply gas and if it can’t the state should cancel their monopoly.
A spokesperson for National Grid says it will connect Julie Levin’s gas but insists that adding any incremental gas load will simply exacerbate a reported supply shortage.
The Public Advocate says that if there is, in fact a gas shortage, the company can buy gas from other suppliers.