NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — National Grid has lost another battle in its campaign to use customers as pawns in its fight with the state over a gas pipeline.
The utility has been ordered to provide service that will allow a Brooklyn business, which CBS2 first told you about last month, to finally open, Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.
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When Jude Johnson put the key in the lock and pressed the button to open his security gates at the Brooklyn-Philly Pretzel Factory in Park Slope, it was with a sense of relief that he wouldn’t be facing financial ruin, that the years of scrimping and saving to open a business would finally pay off.
“Probably about 10 years or so we’ve been saving,” Johnson said.
A few weeks ago things looked grim for Jude and his wife, Daniella Nelson. After saving $200,000 and taking out a $250,000 small business loan, they were body blocked by National Grid. The energy company said it would not supply the natural gas to run their ovens and other equipment. No gas meant no pretzels, lots of bills and possible bankruptcy on the horizon.
“It was a shock. Very, very sad, disheartening. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to scream, yell,” Johnson said.
They also called CBS2, which has been demanding answers from the company, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Public Service about a gas moratorium declared on May 15 by National Grid, as it battles the state over a new pipeline. Some 2,600 customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island have been denied service.
Kramer asked the Department of Public Service to review the case, since National Grid actually gave the couple a green light weeks before the moratorium was in place.
“They were using us as pawns to drive their initiative, which is very unfair,” Johnson said. “We’re a small business. We’re here just trying to make a living.”
The Department of Public Service found for the pretzel factory, saying National Grid, “lacks any reasonable basis” for not providing service.
Brooklyn-Philly Pretzel is now one of 68 homes, apartments and businesses getting hook-ups since Kramer demanded answers from the governor and he, in turn, ordered state officials to investigate National Grid.
“I just want to say thanks to CBS. You guys have been extremely helpful,” Johnson said.
The Brooklyn-Philly Pretzel Factory hopes to be able to open in a few weeks. First, the couple has to hire about 20 people to help them make and sell pretzels in their shop, as well as to bars, restaurants, schools and hospitals in the area.