New York regulators were expected to vote this week on whether to let National Grid dump the cost of the Gowanus Canal toxic waste cleanup on its customers, a move that advocates and elected officials say puts an unfair burden on ratepayers, according to a recent article on DNAinfo.com.
If the Public Service Commission approves National Grid’s proposal, the typical heat bill would jump by about $9.40 starting in January, Karen Young, the article states, citing a National Grid spokeswoman. “On top of that, National Grid wants to tack a 2 percent surcharge onto customers’ monthly bills starting in 2018 to cover the utility’s portion of the cleanup costs for the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek Superfund sites,” the article reads. Researchers with the Public Utility Law Project say the company will have to shell out about $800 million in cleanup costs, and it wants its customers to pay all of that.
“Because of the vastness of the anticipated costs to do all this cleanup work on the Superfund sites, this charge is going to be paid for an indefinite future, perhaps a decade or more by ratepayers,” Bill Yates, director of research for PULP told DNAinfo.com.
Local resident Katia Kelly told DNAinfo.com that passing the entire cost of the cleanup on to customers now was “shameful” because National Grid has had years to plan for the cleanup costs. “Basically what they’re saying to the communities who’ve been living with the toxic sites they left behind is, ‘We’re going to screw you even more,’” said Kelly. “It’s hypocritical for them to plead poverty or hardship when they fully well knew when they bought Brooklyn Union Gas that they were responsible for these cleanups.”
National Grid is responsible for paying much of the cleanup costs for the toxin-riddled waterway because it bought the companies (KeySpan and Brooklyn Union Gas) that fouled the canal with industrial waste decades ago. The federal government’s $506 million Superfund cleanup of the canal is based on the “polluter pays” principle, meaning that the companies that did the environmental damage must pay to repair it.
To read the DNAinfo.com article, click here.
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