N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Decries Lack Of "Marketplace" To Keep Utilities In Check -- Says "Competition" Keeps Corporations Honest
Cuomo Threatens To Revoke Franchise Of National Grid, Alleging "Corporate Abuse"
October 24, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo "demand[ed]" in a letter to the New York PSC Chair that the PSC explain its oversight of National Grid's actions with respect to a natural gas customer connection moratorium, due to inadequate supplies, and asked that the PSC also explain, "potential grounds for revocation of National Grid's license."
In an interview with Long Island News Radio with Jay Oliver, Cuomo said, "These utility companies are the highest form of corporate power and corporate abuse, because there's no marketplace - you know, what keeps a corporation honest? Competition."
"Ultimately, if you don't like that corporation, you go to another corporation in the marketplace. With utilities, there is no marketplace. You go to National Grid or nothing, essentially. So the corporate abuse that these utilities can exercise - and then they are the concept of too big to fail," Cuomo said, according to a transcript published by the governor's office
Discussing National Grid's actions with respect to the moratorium, which National Grid said was due to a supply shortage caused by opposition to a sought pipeline, Cuomo said, "This is corporate abuse, and I'm not going to allow to continue. I'm just not. They have a franchise from the state - it is not a God-given right. And it's not just National Grid - National Grid is one of the worst examples I've seen, but we've gone through this with Con Edison. I've gone through it in another parts [sic] of the state. It is these utility companies where there is no competition."
In a letter to Public Service Commission Chair John Rhodes, Cuomo wrote, "National Grid has asserted that a natural gas moratorium in the region is necessary unless a new multi-state natural gas pipeline is constructed. This is an admission that National Grid knew that it had a serious supply issue and could not meet its region's energy needs. Indeed, this was not a startling insight: the looming shortage has been discussed for years with many options for additional gas supply put forward over the years. There is no doubt that the preferred option for National Grid's self-interest is a pipeline, effectively guaranteeing its future business model."
"First, why did National Grid -- and your agency for that matter -- not better protect customers and consumers by exploring the alternatives to mitigate this obvious supply issue when it was first raised? Why did National Grid allow a crisis to be created that suits its benefit where it essentially extorts the State saying it is either approval of their natural gas pipeline or putting critical development on Long Island in serious jeopardy," Cuomo wrote
"National Grid consciously failed to develop alternative supplies both as an alternative to the pipeline and as a contingency to a stalled pipeline. Therefore, I would also demand a response to your agency's performance of its oversight duty in this case. National Grid's lack of preparedness for the looming supply shortage, failure to explore options, over reliance on a highly complex and controversial pipeline project and extortive behavior wrongfully terminating customers and halting development, were open and obnoxious hostile actions to customers and your agency failed to adequately anticipate, respond, or prevent this harm which was your regulatory duty. I also want to know when and how we eliminate an abusive utility from the state to protect consumers. To that end, I want the specific explanation of potential grounds for revocation of National Grid's license and its liability for the damage that has already been incurred and future damages which will be incurred over the following 12 to 18 months as development is delayed for additional projects is needed. I would also like the specifics necessary to appoint a monitor to oversee National Grids operation on an intense and constant basis to guarantee consumer protection," Cuomo wrote
Asked specifically about governor's letter sent to PSC Chair Rhodes concerning the National Grid moratorium (and not about Cuomo's remarks to Long Island News Radio), the PSC's press office stated concerning the governor's letter, "The PSC Chair shares Governor Cuomo’s concerns about the seriousness of this issue. We are collecting the requested data and will be responding quickly."