Cuomo threatens to pull National Grid’s downstate license

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In May, National Grid announced to municipalities on Long Island and in New York City that gas permits would be withheld after a natural gas pipeline project was denied by the state. (Photo by Tom McCarthy)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to pull National Grid’s license in downstate New York in a letter last Tuesday saying the company’s recent hold on natural gas permits was a “mishandling” of its role as a public utility system.

In the letter, Cuomo gave the company until Nov. 26 to reverse its halt on gas permits in downstate New York.

“The Public Service Law provides that a utility is granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity if the corporation can provide ‘adequate and reliable service’ and the utility’s operation is ‘in the public interest,'” Cuomo said.

In May, National Grid announced to municipalities on Long Island and in New York City that gas permits would be withheld after a natural gas pipeline project was denied by the state.

The project’s opponents say that there is no need for the project, and the halt is a move by National Grid to get the state to approve the project and keep ratepayers dependent on fossil fuel for energy.

“Reliance on a 12-month construction timeline for such a complex and controversial project is also irresponsible,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said National Grid’s “moratorium” is evidence that the company has failed to provide “adequate and reliable” service for customers. 

The letter went on to say that National Grid is at fault if it is true that it is short on gas because its “fundamental legal obligation” as a public utility is to plan and provide for future needs. 

“The ‘moratorium’ is either a fabricated device or a lack of competence,” Cuomo said.

He said that there are existing short-term options to obtain non-piped gas from other sources that National Grid failed to secure. He said that gas could be trucked, shipped or barged and other infrastructure could be proposed like electric service, heat pumps or renewable sources. 

National Grid either was grossly negligent or is deliberately defrauding the state, Cuomo said. 

National Grid spokesman Dominick Graziani said in an email that the company will respond to the Public Service Commission’s show cause order over the gas moratorium and the governor’s letter by Nov. 26.

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