NY Governor looks to revoke utility's license over imaginary natural gas

You may recall earlier this month when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened utility company National Grid with massive fines if they didn’t start adding more natural gas hookups in New York City. This was done despite the fact that National Grid had told him that they no longer had an adequate supply of gas in their aging pipelines to provide service to more customers. This left everyone wondering what would happen during peak demand hours this winter when the temperatures dip into single digits.

In order to avoid the fines, the utility agreed to start adding more hookups, even though it might outstrip the supply. (That didnt’ stop the Governor from continuing to defy calls for the approval of a new pipeline to keep up with demand.) But even that concession apparently wasn’t enough for Cuomo. Now he wants the state’s public utilities regulator to look into the option of canceling National Grid’s license to operate. That’ll teach ’em a lesson, eh? (CBS New York)

Gov. Cuomo’s anger at National Grid has boiled over. In a stunning move, he ordered the state’s public utilities regulator to explore potential grounds for revoking the company’s license.

He also slammed his own agency, the Public Service Commission, for not preventing customers from become pipeline pawns, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

A little over a week ago, John Bruckner, president of National Grid New York, proudly took Kramer into his command center to show off his gas pipeline system. Now he faces the very real possibility that the system will be taken over by someone else, because he declared a gas moratorium that denied natural gas to 3,700 customers.

The governor is calling this a case of “corporate abuse.” National Grid calls it a wakeup call and a cold dose of reality. They’ve already explained that the existing pipelines don’t provide enough product for that many customers. But Cuomo and his environmentalist buddies continue to block any proposals to bring in a new pipeline to alleviate the problem.

Cuomo is really becoming unhinged over this. He told the utilities regulator to find out “when and how we eliminate an abusive utility from the state to protect consumers.”

But he didn’t stop there. Never one to complain about a problem without offering a solution, Cuomos offered up a suggestion. “What are the alternatives? You could use oil. You could truck in gas,” he said.

Excuse me? This is your idea of a solution to the problem? Oil or “trucking in gas?” First of all, even if you could start pumping heating oil through the existing pipelines (you can’t), the furnaces, stoves and other appliances that rely on the supply can’t run on oil. They’re not designed for it. Unless you want to tell everyone to gut their buildings, rip out the gas heaters and replace them with oil-fired furnaces. But then you’re just using more evil fossil fuels that you promised to keep in the ground.

I suppose you could consider “trucking in” CNG (compressed natural gas), assuming they have the facilities to offload it and feed it into the lines. But that process would cost a fortune and heating prices would spike. I somehow don’t think the voters will be too happy with you if that’s the answer.

There are two solutions here. You can try to abandon natural gas for all new customers and construction projects and come up with some other way to heat those buildings. Of course, you’ll bankrupt a ton of construction projects and force consumers to get rid of and replace furnaces and stoves at considerable expense. Nobody is going to go along with that. The other option is to stop playing politics with the environmentalist lobby and approve the pipeline that the utility companies have been asking for for a decade. Then you’ll have cheap, clean energy available to heat all of these buildings for many years to come.

Or, I suppose, you can fire National Grid and hand the problem over to someone else. But they won’t be able to make imaginary natural gas appear out of thin air either.

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