While the natural gas moratorium that affected Long Island, Brooklyn, and Queens for months is officially over, the situation is not yet resolved, and issues still linger. Here’s your Need to Know Update…
Updated January 2020
National Grid has lifted its gas service moratorium after agreeing to a deal with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The utility will begin processing gas applications going back to its May 2019 moratorium, when the New York Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) denied for a second time National Grid’s request to build a $1 billion gas pipeline.
National Grid bowed to public pressure and relented after Gov. Cuomo threatened to revoke the utility’s operation certificate for the downstate area. After Cuomo’s threat, Moody’s put National Grid on review for a possible investment ranking downgrade. National Grid could have lost 1.8 million gas customers.
Under the new agreement, National Grid will pay $36 million in penalties, supervised by the New State Division of the Budget and the state Public Service Commission (PSC). The penalty will pay out $7 million to compensate customers denied service during the moratorium, $8 million will go toward new gas efficiency measures and $20 million will be invested in clean energy businesses in New York.
A state-appointed monitor will report to the agencies as to National Grid’s compliance level. New York Attorney General Letitia James. Assemblymember Michael Cusick, Chair of the Standing Committee on Energy, will also monitor National Grid’s operation to ensure fairness to customers.
While National Grid previously said it had no choice but to issue the moratorium, claiming an insufficient natural gas supply, it now says it can meet downstate natural gas needs for the time being by increasing energy efficiency programs, boosting its use of trucked-in compressed natural gas, and demand response programs. The latter involves switching to oil or limiting natural gas usage when demand is high.
Natural Grid has begun processing more than 4,000 pending applications that the moratorium delayed. Applications are being handled on a priority level, addressing first those who do not have heat, hospitals, etc. Applications for oil to gas conversions could take 4-5 months as a result.
Additionally, National Grid is requiring capacity checks first if the application involves a new service to a house. If the home already has a gas line and the new addition falls within their existing meter size, the capacity check is not required.
If you want to upgrade or replace your heating system and were planning to switch to natural gas at the same time, talk to us about the Energy Kinetics System 2000.
In addition to being a high-efficiency heating system, it can be installed to run on oil or Bioheat and converted later to natural gas, making it ideal for this situation.
If you have any questions about natural gas conversions or services, give us a call at (516) 221-2559
If the radio ads about a moratorium on national gas in the Long Island area are confusing, you’re not alone. Here at Tragar, we’re fielding a lot of questions about how it will affect our clients so this plain language rundown should help.
At its most simple, Natural Grid and New York State are fighting about a new natural gas pipeline. Natural Grid wants it, claiming it’s essential to maintain service levels, yet the state has vetoed the plan twice. Unfortunately, the reasons why and how National Grid is responding to the veto is anything but simple.
What is the Williams Pipeline?
Williams is an energy infrastructure company based in Oklahoma that has built a 10,000 mile natural gas pipeline from Texas to New York City. What’s being referred to as “the Williams Pipeline” is a $1 billion expansion of that pipeline into Long Island to serve the Island, Brooklyn, and Queens, set to be finished by winter 2020.
Why Does National Grid Want the Natural Gas Pipeline?
National Grid wants the pipeline because it says it has reached capacity for providing service to natural gas clients. It says that natural gas use has been increasing 10 percent each year. Without the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE), another name for the Williams Pipeline, National Grid claims it cannot fulfill new natural gas service requests in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island.
Why Did New York State Veto the Williams Pipeline?
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said that the pipeline would lead to water quality violations due, in part, to re-suspension of sediments and contaminants like mercury and copper. It would also disturb shellfish beds and habitats. NYSDEC also said that it does not meet New York State’s water quality standards.
Many New York State politicians, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, also oppose the pipeline because they want to move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy and conservation. The state denied authorization for the pipeline twice as a result.
The Pipeline Dispute Puts Customers in a Bind
After the denial in May by NYSDEC, National Grid has issued a moratorium on new natural gas service. The public utility argues that it can’t increase service needs without the increased supply the pipeline would bring.
Politicians counter that National Grid is just being a bully to get what it wants. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams called it “reprehensible” and “a political ploy to have the Williams Pipeline built.” He also referred to it as “holding everybody hostage.”
Twenty-seven members of the New York City Council released a public letter on behalf of their constituents in Brooklyn and Queens denouncing National Grid’s actions. The letter says that as a public utility, National Grid has a responsibility to provide service and alternative solutions as needed.
In a statement to Politico, NYC Council member Rafael Espinal referred to National Grid as a “bully.” New York State Attorney General Letitia James has launched an inquiry into National Grid’s moratorium.
In the meantime, customers on Long Island, in Brooklyn, and Queens are being put in difficult situations, and where they’re located can be a factor. A few requests for new service have been approved on Long Island whereas Brooklyn residents, who are existing customers, are being told gas service can’t be turned back on after a temporary hold for renovations is complete.
Sometimes National Grid denies homeowner requests for new service outright. Often, though, the homeowners’ requests are approved but when their contractor follows up with National Grid to actually do the hookup, National Grid refuses, which puts the contractor in a terrible position. With either method, the homeowner or business owner is stuck in limbo.
Tragar’s Solution to the Natural Gas Moratorium
While we can’t fix the dispute between National Grid and New York State, Tragar customers do have options. For example, if you’ve been planning to get a new heating system and convert from oil heat to natural gas at the same time, talk to us about the Energy Kinetics System 2000. This high-efficiency heating system can operate on natural gas, oil heat, propane or Bioheat. On top of that, you can also have it installed now to run on oil or Bioheat and then later, after the moratorium is resolved, we can easily convert it to run on natural gas. This way you get the furnace system upgrade you need now, you’ll save money because it’s a high-efficiency system, and can still have the benefits of natural gas, too, later.
Tragar Is the Expert in Heating Systems
If you’re considering a furnace system upgrade, talk to the experts. Tragar Home Services is a Long Island-based and family-owned business that provides exceptional heating and cooling services. Just call (516) 221-2559 or fill out the quick contact form on this page for a service request.