NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – More customers are airing their frustration in their fight against National Grid‘s gas moratorium.
But even as some are finally getting gas hookups, others are still feeling like pipeline pawns, reports CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer.
CBS2 got action once again for customers: 32 homes and apartments now have gas hookups as state officials say that “in a growing number of cases” the company was wrong to deny service.
On May 15, National Grid invoked a moratorium refusing new hookups to 2,600 customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island as it battles with the state over a new gas pipeline. The company insists it can’t increase demand without the pipeline.
National Grid again denied CBS2’s request to speak with the president about the moratorium. A spokesperson also refused to comment on why their policy seems to differ from that of ConEd.
A Brooklyn couple trying to open a pretzel business became the latest pawns in the utility’s fight for a gas pipeline. They point out that National Grid is hurting the city’s job base since they wanted to hire as many as 20 people to work for them.The padlock on the outside of their Park Slope business says all you need to know about what’s happened to Daniella Nelson and Jude Johnsons’s dream of being small business owners opening a pretzel store.
It’s been twisted like a proverbial pretzel by the utility, which won’t give them a gas hook up.
“We’ve invested most of our savings in this, invested almost $200,000,” said Daniella Nelson.
The couple, who also needed a $250,000 small business loan to buy the gas-powered ovens and equipment, are almost at the end of their rope.
“If we don’t open by next month, I just don’t know what we’re going to do,” said Nelson.
What confounds the couple is that National Grid approved the installation of a new meter in April before the moratorium.
“There was gas here before,” she said. “We got approval, we have an account number and they still said given their infrastructure, they can’t turn on new customers.”
The company told them if they want gas, “Call your senator,” said Johnson.
The service denial comes as the state Department of Public Service tells CBS2 that since Kramer demanded answers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he ordered the agency to investigate National Grid.
“…In a growing number of cases that we have examined to date the company did not demonstrate that the customers would in fact increase demand,” the agency said.
So far the agency has ordered National Grid to turn on service in 32 homes and apartments as it probes whether the company properly notified customers of the moratorium and whether it’s actually justified.
Meanwhile, ConEd – Which also has a gas moratorium – has a totally different policy.
Small business owners, especially food and beverage companies, are allowed to used existing service for cooking. Customers planning renovations can reconnect once the job is completed as long as it does not add too much to the gas load.
“It’s unfair, it’s unequal treatment,” said Nelson. “It feels like there’s no regulation or standard with these utilities. Everybody makes their own decision.”