Photo: No North Brooklyn Pipeline / Instagram

More than two dozen New York politicians are calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to revisit a state order allowing National Grid to raise rates to pay for its fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

On Friday, 33 elected officials delivered a letter to the governor, asking that she conduct a review of the recent Public Service Commission (PSC) order to approve the rate hike in downstate National Grid territory that will force customers to pay for portions of the North Brooklyn Pipeline and other projects.

“At a time when we are seeing the impacts of climate change and New Yorkers owe nearly $2 billion in unpaid debt to corporate utilities it is unconscionable to force 1.9 million customers to pay for new pipelines and other fracked gas projects,” the officials say.

Senator Chuck Schumer at an August 6 press conference, speaking out against the North BK Pipeline. Photo: Twitter.

Reached on Monday, the governor’s office told BK Reader it was reviewing the letter.

“Governor Hochul is committed to taking bold action to address climate change head-on, deliver environmental justice, and meet ambitious carbon reduction goals.”

In response to the letter, National Grid told BK Reader the rate hike was the result of two years of “extensive negotiations” and that the agreement balanced affordability with its need to “maintain the safety and reliability of our natural gas networks.”

National Grid office stormed in Brooklyn

The news came as activists stormed the lobby of the National Grid headquarters in downtown Brooklyn Monday, unfurling a banner over its staircase reading: “Brooklyn will not be sacrificed for National Grid profits.”

The event was organized to protest National Grid being named “headline sponsor” of Climate Week NYC, which kicked off Monday.

The event ? which is organized by international non-profit the?Climate Group?in conjunction with the United Nations, the COP26 and the City of New York ? has allowed National Grid’s executives to speak on stage about the future of energy.

Non-profit SANE Energy said community members had stormed the National Grid headquarters to protest “horrific greenwashing” since the company “spent 2020 and 2021 installing a dirty fracked gas pipeline against the will of BIPOC communities from Brownsville to Bushwick.”

In response to the protest, National Grid spokesperson Karen Young said the company’s partnership with Climate Week NYC and COP26 was designed to help it “more deeply engage in these conversations and demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment to achieving net zero [carbon emissions] without leaving any customer, neighborhood or community behind.”

She said the company had a role in driving change towards a clean energy future, but recognized that there were “different viewpoints on how to achieve net zero.”  

“We remain ready to have constructive multilateral conversations, particularly with the groups who do not share our views.  Everyone should have a voice in improving our collective energy future.?

When asked why National Grid was a headline sponsor of its event, it told BK Reader that the utility has a “critical role to play in accelerating the transition to a world of net zero emissions and the evolution of US energy and transport infrastructure towards that.”

“It has made significant commitments and is taking action in a number of areas.  But no business or government is currently doing enough. Climate Week NYC is not just about sharing success in climate action but a chance to discuss and challenge on what more has to be done.”

The battle of the North Brooklyn pipeline

For more than a year, Brooklyn residents have been fighting the construction of a new National Grid fracked gas pipeline running through Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick and Williamsburg.

Part of that fight has been opposing the rate hike the utility has sought from the PSC to pay for the pipeline and other infrastructure projects.

Most recently, pipeline opponents have organized a National Grid rate-strike, and some have filed paperwork alleging the utility avoided “white” neighborhoods in favor of running it through Black and Brown communities.

Brooklyn residents announced an administrative filing against the National Grid North Brooklyn pipeline. Photo: Supplied

The issue was addressed in Friday’s letter to Gov. Hochul.

“Community organizations introduced significant evidence in the case that shows National Grid?s projects disproportionately harm disadvantaged Black and Brown working class communities and that the company?s overall rate plan goes in the wrong direction on greenhouse gas emissions,” they said.

Signees include Senators Julia Salazar, Jabari Brisport and Roxanne J. Persaud, Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, Assemblymembers Charles Barron and Latrice Walker and Councilmember Antonio Reynoso.

The officials said they were encouraged by Hochul’s quick response to the flooding caused in New York by the remnants of Hurricane Ida and for “directly naming the core cause – climate change.”

Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

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