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NY Attorney General launching inquiry into National Grid gas service moratorium

2019-09-11

New York’s top prosecutor is launching an inquiry into National Grid’s decision to refuse gas service to prospective and existing customers, the Daily News has learned.

Attorney General Letitia James has requested that National Grid hand over reams of documents as part of the inquiry, which is considered the first step toward launching a potential investigation, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

The utility has claimed it can’t provide gas service to new customers because a controversial plan to build a new pipeline was shelved. National Grid has argued the so-called Williams Pipeline, which would cost nearly $1 billion and run from Pennsylvania to Rockaway, would enable the utility to add capacity and better service customers.

According to the source, the records that James wants include documents prepared for or submitted to government agencies that relate to the utility’s ability to provide gas, as well as documents connected to communications with customers about that ability.

The records request appears to be focusing on whether National Grid violated state law by creating a moratorium on granting new customers access to its services.

State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) said she urged James to look into the matter, and is “pleased” about the inquiry.

She said while National Grid’s larger corporate clients were informed about the possibility of disruptions last year, smaller businesses and residents didn’t start hearing about it until May or June.

Since then, she’s been getting calls from residents who’ve been unable to get their gas turned back on after renovations, and businesses that are now facing shutting their doors as a result.

“People are losing their shirts,” Simon said. “I’m very concerned about that,”

Simon said she’s also concerned about reports from constituents who’ve told her that National Grid encouraged them to “lobby” their local representatives when it urged them to push for the pipeline, which the state blocked in May.

“I find it troubling,” she said.

So far, the utility has rejected 2,600 applications for service in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.

The Attorney General’s office declined to comment. National Grid did not immediately respond to calls.