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Homes, businesses in limbo as National Grid denies natural gas service


Sruli “Izzy” Eidelman looking at stalled plans for his Crown Heights restaurant.

Families and businesses are being left in the lurch by National Grid amid its dispute with the state over a proposed natural gas line.

Among the casualties of the service moratorium are a Brooklyn family who cannot get natural gas for their newly renovated house and a Crown Heights restaurateur who had to push back the opening of his new eatery.

“The fact that they could hold us hostage and there’s not much we can do sucks,” the restaurateur, Sruli “Izzy” Eidelman, said of National Grid.

The energy company has rejected 2,600 applications for natural gas service to 20,000 commercial and residential units in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island since mid-May.

National Grid claims it cannot take on new customers because its downstate service has already reached full capacity. To meet extra demand, the company says, the state must reverse its rejection of the controversial, nearly $1 billion Williams Pipeline from Pennsylvania to Rockaway Beach.

“To add additional service without [the pipeline] would pose a risk to the operational integrity of our system and compromise natural gas use for our existing 1.8 million customers in New York City and on Long Island,” National Grid New York president John Bruckner said in an Aug. 8 statement.

A National Grid truck
A National Grid truck (Steven Senne/AP)

Meanwhile, a Brooklyn man fears he will be unable to move his family of six into his new Sheepshead Bay home this fall because National Grid recently rejected his natural gas application.

“We got permits for the house, we finished the house, we are painting our house. Everything is set up for gas, and now they’re telling me they cannot supply me with gas?” said Isaac, who didn’t want his last name published. “So what am I supposed to do?

“This is not right,” he added, saying he has to pay rent for his family’s current home along with the mortgage on his new property.

Another Brooklyn man had spent years turning a former “blight” into a beautiful home when National Grid turned him down for natural gas service.

He echoed environmentalists’ claims from the time the state Department of Environmental Conservation was reviewing the Williams Pipeline, when they said National Grid was creating a phony energy crisis.

“It’s basically a political strong-arming taking advantage of their monopoly,” said the man, who didn’t want his name published out of fear of retribution.

Brooklyn Councilman Chaim Deutsch called on Gov. Cuomo to sit down with National Grid officials to end the moratorium.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch
Councilman Chaim Deutsch (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

“The longer we go, the worse it’s going to get,” he said. “We’re approaching the winter months and people are going to be left with no heat.

“This conversation should have been had probably four years ago, when they started planning the pipeline,” Deutsch added.

Cuomo on Tuesday directed the state Department of Public Services to"examine steps" to reverse the service denials, “impose appropriate penalties and sanctions” and “consider alternatives to National Grid as a franchisee for some or all of the areas it currently serves.”

For now, the moratorium appears to be harming small businesses’ bottom line.

Eidelman has pushed back the opening of his new “southern-comfort” style eatery, Izzy’s Fried Chicken, from June to sometime within the next two weeks. He’s also spent $50,000 on new fryers and ovens that use electrical power, putting his equipment using natural gas in storage.

“It’s greed. That’s what it is,” he said of the moratorium.