The self-imposed moratorium came after state agencies blocked the Williams Pipeline, which the utility said it needed to meet rising demand from customers.
According to reports, National Grid refused some 3,000 requests from small businesses, homeowners and developers for gas hookups.
That all came to a head on Monday when Governor Andrew Cuomo, after threatening to pull the utility’s license, announced an agreement with National Grid to lift the moratorium.
The company will pay $36 million in penalties, including $7 million to compensate customers whoe were impacted by the moratorium. National Grid has identified “short-term supply mechanisms” that will meet their demands over the next two years.
The utility will study long-term options over the next three months, and will have their plans reviewed in public.
Cuomo said the agreement shows they “will not allow any business – big or small – to extort New Yorkers in order to advance its own interests.”
We commend the governor for coming down hard on the utility. Their actions hurt residents who suffered without heat when temperatures began to dip. Small businesses couldn’t get off the ground, adding to the burdensome challenges they face daily.
While this agreement temporarily takes the heat off National Grid, we should closely examine whether relying on private companies as utilities is the way to go moving forward.
It’s the same question we asked when Con Edison left tens of thousands without power during the heat wave over the summer. New Yorkers wondered then if we should turn to an alternative.
It’s at least worth a robust discussion as we also contemplate how to best fight back against climate change. If National Grid, Con Edison and other utility companies continue to let down New Yorkers, can we really trust them to get the job done?