In the years following Hurricane Sandy, National Grid waived the fees it usually charged for disconnecting and reconnecting gas lines for homeowners who were raising their damaged houses. On June 15, the utility decided it was time to reinstate those charges. As a result those homeowners received bills starting at $700 to disconnect in addition to reconnection bills of $2000 or more.
Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky wrote National Grid on August 21, after numerous homeowners contacted him about the increase, and he organized a protest to be held at National Grid’s Barrett Power Plant in Island Park later this month.
After announcing the protest Kaminsky began talks with National Grid President Ken Daly urging him to reverse the policy.
Today National Grid announced it would once again waive fees for Sandy victims.
“We wanted to do everything we could to continue assisting customers that owned their home when Sandy hit, and who are just now in the process of rebuilding their homes after receiving New York Rising and Build It Back grants,” said Mike Ruiz, Director of Community and Customer Management at National Grid.”
In a statement, National Grid said it “will continue to temporarily suspend its recovery of costs to disconnect and reconnect natural gas facilities through March 31, 2016 to accommodate the reconstruction activities of current New York Rising and Build It Back grantees and other Sandy-affected customers in the service relocation process. Going forward, the company will work with customers and officials to determine whether these costs are recoverable through storm reconstruction programs.” There will also be a procedure for homeowners who already paid these fees to be reimbursed by National Grid.
“I am very pleased that National Grid will discontinue charging storm victims and fund the costs associated with these required infrastructure improvements,” said Assemblyman Kaminsky. “Storm victims have been through so much—an additional charge, which would have cost already beleaguered families thousands of dollars, was the last thing that they needed. I applaud National Grid for responding to the public and doing what is right for those in our region still trying to rebuild. Kaminsky also gave credit to Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty and Legislator Denise Ford. McGinty said the village is “Gratified by the decision by National Grid to continue to assist our residents as we continue to rebuild.”
Michele Insinga executive director of Adopt a House said “Common practice should be if you gave it to any Sandy family earlier on [who was] lucky enough to be able to lift and repair, than the same “courtesy” should be given to ALL Sandy families no matter how long it takes.”