NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Another National Grid customer is being used as a pawn in the utility’s fight for a gas pipeline.
A Vietnamese restaurateur now faces bankruptcy.
This comes as the state’s Public Service Commission tells CBS2 in each of the cases it has so far examined, the utility was wrong to deny service to its customers.
CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer continues to demand answers from those responsible.
The sign in the window of Pho 86, a Vietnamese restaurant in Bensonhurst, says “coming soon.” It has been up for three months. If it doesn’t come down soon, the owner will have to declare bankruptcy.
“Every night, I can not sleep. I think about the restaurant. No gas, and my dream, my future, gone,” Peter Lee told Kramer.
Lee borrowed money and spent his life savings to open his restaurant, believing that when the renovations were done, National Grid would turn on the gas for his six stoves. They said no.
“No gas. No reason. Nobody know,” Lee said.
“Nobody told you when you wanted to open your restaurant you wouldn’t be able to get gas?” Kramer asked.
“No one tell me, nobody,” he said. “It’s horrible.”
If National Grid doesn’t relent in two months, he’ll be forced to close up shop before anyone gets a chance to taste his food.
“I think America, everything good, and cannot be like happen to my life,” Lee said. “Like that.”
This comes as a department spokesman offered a stunning revelation: In each of the six cases it has probed, it found National Grid acted improperly. The spokesman said in a statement:
National Grid has justified the moratorium as a mechanism to prevent increased demand for natural gas, but in the cases that we have examined to date, the company did not demonstrate that the customers would in fact increase demand.
National Grid was ordered to provide service. The company, not happy about it, said it “will simply exacerbate the current supply shortage, and potentially put the system at risk.”
Peter Lee’s story is similar to the 2,600 other home and business owners in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island denied service.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Robert Carroll says the state should think about finding a new gas supplier.
“What I think they’re doing is trying to hold hostage those 2,600 people so that the Department of Environmental Conservation will change their opinion on a pipeline they’ve deemed environmentally unsound,” Carroll said.
Kramer asked to interview the president of National Grid, but a company spokesperson said “not at this time.” She’ll continue to ask.
State officials say that consumers considering home or business renovations that require shutting off the gas supply should check with the utility first to make sure service will be restored.