NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Homeowners are caught in the middle of a gas dispute, victims of a battle between a company and lawmakers with no end in sight.
New York is expanding a state investigation into a gas moratorium declared by one of the region's largest energy companies as more victims come forward and angry lawmakers demand an end to the company's exclusive monopoly, reports CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer.
Such is the case with a Park Slope brownstone that's Julie Levin's dream house, but a gas moratorium has turned it into an unexpected nightmare for the mom of three young kids.
"We have nowhere to go, our lease is up in a month," said Levin. "We have no more money left, we need to move into our house."
When the Levins bought the home, they turned off the gas to renovate.
When they asked energy company National Grid to simply turn it back on, the company told them to call their lawmakers and ask them to approve a controversial new pipeline.
"It's beyond frustrated," said Levin. "I have nowhere to go with my kids.
"One of the answers they gave me was (to) convert your entire house to electric," she said. "Now I almost dropped the phone... I don't even think that's possible. I don't have the money to do it."
Levin's story is not unique. Furious elected officials say there are dozens and dozens of homes and businesses told they can't get gas hookups, like 158 Bay 48th Street in Bensonhurst and 203 Bay 25th Street.
In another example, without gas the United Chinese Association after school programs will be canceled and 500 seniors won't be fed.
"I'm angry but the senior citizens, they are angry too because they cannot come to our center," said Ansen Tang of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn. "They cannot have lunch in our center because we cannot open the center for them."
Officials Blast National Grid Over Gas Moratorium To Service In Brooklyn
Brooklyn is just the latest area to be affected by National Grid's moratorium. Dozens of businesses in Nassau and Suffolk have been frozen out. Millions of dollars in construction projects have been put on hold.
"This is simply an issue of National Grid, a billion-dollar corporation, seeking to perpetuate its business model," said New York State assembly member William Colton.
"National Grid does not have a supply problem, they have a greed problem," said Councilman Mark Treyger of Brooklyn.
The lawmakers say the company can easily buy gas on the spot market to meet the needs of its customers, but a company spokesperson insisted the spot market "is not a sustainable operational solution for providing reliable and long-term natural gas service."
The situation is about to get worse: Affordable housing projects now under construction will be out of luck.
"Thousands of families, working families who desperately need housing, will not have gas," said Treyger.
A spokesman for the state Department of Public Service tells CBS2 the agency will hold National Grid accountable for meeting its obligations to consumers. An investigation into the conglomerate is now being expanded in light of the latest complaints.
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