Last week we took the Staten Island Ferry along with some of our Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition colleagues from 350 BK and Food & Water Watch to attend a public hearing on the National Grid rate case.
Our message to National Grid and the Public Service Commission - “No rate hikes! No fracked gas expansion!”
For years we’ve known that expanding the use of fracked gas is a disaster for our climate, yet the investor-owned utilities that serve NYC and Long Island, National Grid and Con Edison, are proposing to raise our monthly bills to lock us into decades more of fracked gas use.
ConEd wants to use hundreds of millions of our ratepayer dollars to “modernize” an LNG facility in Astoria, replace and expand leak prone pipeline and expand large transmission pipelines in Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. National Grid also wants to spend hundreds of millions of our ratepayer dollars to replace thousands of miles of leaking pipeline and convert customers from oil to gas.
Climate science is telling us we need to be getting off gas which means these investments in dirty fossil fuel infrastructure will soon become stranded assets that we’ll be stuck paying for. Every dollar should be going into renewable heating options not fracked gas.
But ConEd and National Grid can’t just raise our rates whenever they want for whatever reason they want. Since utilities operating in New York were granted a monopoly status, they are regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC), which means if National Grid and ConEd wants to raise our rates they need PSC approval through a proceeding called a rate case.
This year, rate cases are going on for both ConEd and National Grid. The ConEd rate case is further along and right now parties who have intervened in the case are trying to negotiate a settlement agreement on what ConEd should spend money on and how much our rates should go up. Sane Energy has intervened in both cases and provided testimony in the ConEd rate case arguing that there should be no rate hike for fracked gas infrastructure.
Settlement is confidential so we can’t talk about specifics but we can say that most of the people at the table, including the PSC and ConEd, are failing to present a plan that follows what climate science demands.
We need to flood the PSC with comments letting them know that New Yorkers are demanding we go down the path of renewable energy now, not more dirty fracked gas.
The utilities can see the writing on the wall but they want to continue business as usual for as long as possible. That’s why National Grid is pushing for the Williams NESE fracked gas pipeline.
This summer National Grid sent misleading emails to their customers trying to get them to advocate for the pipeline and has spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on pro-pipeline radio ads.
They’re also trying to create a panic by using moratorium scare tactics, denying gas hooks up to business and homeowners claiming there’s a gas shortage without the Williams Pipeline.
But as this report from Suzanne Mattei, a former DEC regional director, proves there is no gas shortage. New city and state laws require greenhouse gas emissions to go down meaning gas demand is also going down, not up.
We need the PSC to do its job and serve us the public, not the investor-owned utilities who are raking in millions in profits every year. That’s what climate science demands. That’s what the people of New York are demanding. And that’s why we wrote directly to John Rhodes, the CEO and head commissioner of the Public Service Commission. Since then, the PSC has opened an investigation as to whether National Grid is reasonable to reject gas hookups.
We believe this is asking the wrong questions! We don’t need another investigation with no due date in sight.
We need our state agencies, New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) who focuses on renewable energy development, the PSC, who regulate the utilities, and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), who watchdogs our environment, all under Governor Cuomo’s leadership to Stop Digging and Fund The Solutions NOW!
Join us in September for action packed Climate Strike activities both in NYC and in Albany. Keep in the loop with our famous Sane Energy newsletter that goes out to over 8,000 New Yorkers and neighbors by signing up for our newsletter here.