Households and small businesses in Brooklyn and Queens will get to stay warm this winter now that the Public Service Commission has order National Grid to immediately connect gas hookups to 1,100 sites that were going to be denied fuel unless the utility company got approved for its Williams Pipeline proposal.
“National Grid thought it could bully New Yorkers into getting the Williams Pipeline, which would’ve significantly disrupted our waterways and marry us into fossil fuels for generations to come,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria). “National Grid executives claimed the sky was immediately going to fall if it didn’t get this gas connection and thought it was okay to use hard-working families of Queens and Brooklyn as a bargaining chip.”
The Williams Pipeline, which was proposed to extend from as far as Coney Island in Brooklyn to Nassau County, would have been four miles from the Rockaways where the city and state invested hundreds of millions to protect the natural ecosystem in that region of Queens and would render their efforts to be pointless, according to a spokesman of Constantinides.
“They invested hundreds of millions of dollars to preserve the ecosystem and we are going to rip it all up for a natural gas pipeline,” said the spokesman. “The other big concern is that there is going to be a couple of generations of us relying on natural gas when we should be focusing on renewal energy.”
The utility company has claimed there would be a huge catastrophe in providing energy to its customers without the pipeline, according to Constantinides, the chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, but he has yet to receive proof from National Grid.
“To this day they have yet to provide any concrete evidence,” said Constantinides on Oct. 11.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has opened an inquiry into National Grid through the Department of Public Service to investigate whether the company had plans to meet the needs of its customers without the pipeline approval for this coming winter, because even with the go-ahead to move forward with the project gas would not have come from the development until December 2020.
“It is the fundamental responsibility of our utilities to provide reliable service,” Cuomo said. “National Grid has acted in bad faith throughout this process – first by denying over 1,100 eligible customers with service and now by failing to fulfill its core responsibility.”
John Rhodes, chair of the Public Service Commission, ordered National Grid to supply its customers and to implement an alternative supply and demand reduction plan to ensure the safety and reliability of the gas system, according to the Governor’s Office. The order also commences a penalty proceeding against the utility for alleged violations of the Public Service Law.
“The law requires utilities to provide gas service without unreasonable qualifications or lengthy delay when sufficient gas supply exists, which the order alleges is the case for these previously existing customers of National Grid who found themselves suddenly cut off from gas without adequate warning and preparation,” said Rhodes.
Constantinides, who is running for the Queens Borough President Office, wants companies to start putting people first over profits.
“The time for New York City to initiate a public utility option that puts New York City residents first, not shareholders and fossil fuel interests, is long overdue,” said Constantinides.