NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The head of National Grid – the company at the center of a firestorm for refusing natural gas hookups to thousands of New Yorkers – insists the gas shortage is real.
So real people who live in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island could face the possibility of a service losses akin to a blackout.
CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer spoke with the man in charge of the controversial utility.
After repeated requests for comment, CBS2 finally got into the belly of the beast – National Grid headquarters in Long Island.
"Is there really a shortage?" Kramer asked National Grid President John Bruckner.
"Marcia, there really is a gas shortage, there's a capacity shortage in this region," Bruckner said.
CBS2 wanted an answer that would make sense to the homeowners and small business owners who feel betrayed by being told the company with a monopoly to provide natural gas just can't help them.
WEB EXTRA - See The Entire Interview With National Grid President John Bruckner Here:
"Give me numbers. What's the demand and what's the supply," Kramer asked.
"The demand for natural gas over the next ten years continues to grow by 10 percent," Bruckner replied.
The company did provide actual numbers, saying that right now demand outstrips supply by 2,100 dekatherms – which in gas company parlance translates into 10,000 homes.
Bruckner's company has been in a battle with the state over approval of a new pipe line and insists the problem is one of delivery.
He says he needs the pipeline to meet the demand.
"There is a plethora of supply and we just can't get it to the region," Bruckner claimed.
If the New York area faces a tough winter, Bruckner says we could face the very real problem of the equivalent of a gas blackout – loss of service and no heat – similar to what happened in Rhode Island last winter.
"Are you predicting gas shortages this winter that could mean reductions in service?" Kramer asked.
"Margins are very tight," Bruckner warned.
"If your supply is so short and your demand is so high could we be looking at that?"
"Yeah," the National Grid president added.
Since the gas moratorium began, 3,700 customers have been denied service. After CBS2 started highlight the stories of those left out in the cold. The state ordered the company to provide natural gas to 1,100.
"As the head of National Grid New York when you hear some of these stories… How do you react?" Kramer asked.
"All of them are heartbreak. I'm not just the president of National Grid I have many friends who want to open up a business… It does hurt and when I see the impact on their business and I think about it in a macro sense and I see the impact on the region… It hurts," Bruckner explained.
for more features.