A Queens lawmaker is turning up the heat on National Grid over its moratorium on gas service to new and returning customers because of continued opposition to the $1 billion Williams pipeline project, which was denied a permit by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in May over concerns it would contaminate New York Harbor.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo introduced legislation Tuesday to ensure residents are able to access service from gas and electric utilities that may have a monopoly on service in a community. A second bill would create a task force to study backup energy in New York where the provider is unable or unwilling to provide such service.
“National Grid is denying gas service to many of my constituents, mainly because of the state’s opposition, including mine, to the proposed Williams pipeline,” Addabbo said. “My first concern is and always has been, for the people who I represent and in this instance, those who are still trying to return to their homes more than six years after Superstorm Sandy or attempting to open a new business. National Grid’s moratorium on gas service to new and existing homes and businesses is completely unnecessary and unacceptable.”
National Grid claims they are unable to provide gas service without the Williams pipeline which would transport fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania under New York Harbor terminating just over three miles off Rockaway Beach. Addabbo claims that a utility company with a monopoly and refusing to provide essential service to a resident or business must be held accountable.
“I have long opposed fracking and the process of hydraulic fracturing of gas, which I believe to be dangerous and to have a negative impact on our environment,” Addabbo said. “I know there’s a need for different sources of energy, but I do not believe spending approximately $1 billion on a pipeline that would be obsolete in 10 years is the right direction for us to take. I vowed to continue working towards addressing the energy needs and efficient practices of our state, which is why I introduced legislation this week to create a backup energy task force.”
Legislation S.6731 would establish such a task force to study backup energy options in the state when an energy provider is unable or unwilling to provide such service. The study would include the current ability of the state to provide backup power, solar power, wind power, fuel cells, alternate utility suppliers and any other measure the task force deems relevant.
Bill S.6730 would seek to define access to utility service as a basic civil right for residents, along with clean air and clean water, and make responsible utility companies liable if they refuse to provide such service.
“The need for action and resolution is immediate for many residents and businesses, especially those in my district struggling to restore what they lost during Superstorm Sandy,” Addabbo said. “I will continue working with the governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, the Public Service Commission and National Grid regarding the unacceptable notion of not providing gas service to my constituents. New Yorkers deserve to receive basic utility service, clean air and clean water as a civil right and they must not be used as means for a personal agenda or economic gain.”
A National Grid spokeswoman said, “We’re reviewing the legislation.”