NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The company responsible for denying natural gas to thousands of New Yorkers is moving quickly to reconnect more than 1,100 customers.
However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that National Grid is not off the hook yet, adding an investigation is continuing, fines are a possibility and thousands remain pipeline pawns, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
Cuomo was in a celebratory mood as he marched in the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan.
“It is a great day,” he said.
But it was also a great day for the National Grid customers denied natural gas hook-ups. The company, which has a monopoly to supply gas in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, said it has started the process of contacting and reconnecting service to customers previously disconnected more than two years ago, a process that is expected to take about a month.
It came with a mea culpa from National Grid New York President John Bruckner.
“It’s clear we could have done a better job communicating to this particular segment of customers,” he said in a statement.
But customers getting hook-ups comprise only about a third of the 3,700 denied power as the company battles the state over approval of a new gas pipeline. Cuomo ordered the new hook-ups after Kramer demanded answers several months ago. On Monday, she did it again, reminding the governor that there are still 2,600 customers who have been told “no gas for you.”
“This is not over yet with National Grid,” Cuomo said.
The governor is cynical about why the company declared a moratorium and its link to the pipeline.
“All of a sudden people are losing power and people can’t get their power turned back on,” Cuomo said. “The suspicious fact, not that I’m a conspiratorial type, even if the pipeline was approved, it wouldn’t be built for at least 12 months, 18 months. What did they think was going to happen in the meantime?”
The governor said the state Department of Public Service was continuing its investigation, asking why the company didn’t identify alternative supplies.
“There are other ways to bring in gas besides the pipeline. It can come in on trucks. It can come in on barges,” Cuomo said. “They had the obligation to provide power and I want to know how they thought they were going to provide power and fulfill that responsibility for the next year.”
The company is insisting there is still a supply shortage. It said it will use several short-term solutions, including portable compressed natural gas stations and buying gas from the spot commodities market .
National Grid could still face fines and other sanctions once the investigation is completed. There are also questions about what will happen to future customers.