New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has a habit of bullying others to cover for and fix his policy blunders. In another display of political grace, Mr. Cuomo has ordered the utility National Grid to resume natural-gas hookups that were suspended after his senseless pipeline veto this spring.
Mr. Cuomo wants to make New York ground zero in the left’s plan to purge fossil fuels. First he banned shale fracking in southern New York despite its huge potential to boost local economies. Then he blocked a natural-gas pipeline from Pennsylvania that would have reduced energy bills and reliance on heating oil.
As a coup de grâce, in May he vetoed another pipeline to bring natural gas to Long Island from New Jersey. National Grid, which provides natural gas on Long Island, responded rationally by imposing a moratorium on natural-gas hookups to prevent supply disruptions when demand spikes in the winter.
This essentially stranded tens of thousands of folks waiting for gas hookups, including more than a thousand who had deactivated their service after moving or renovating. Apparently Mr. Cuomo didn’t understand that the result of his pipeline blockade was to force residents to use more expensive and less-efficient electric appliances for space and water heating.
After folks on Long Island protested—one homeless shelter estimated that electrification would cost an additional $200,000—Mr. Cuomo last week ordered National Grid to reconnect over a thousand customers. He also directed state regulators to investigate National Grid’s decision to disrupt natural gas service and threatened to yank its monopoly.
National Grid now says it plans to truck in compressed natural gas to meet peak demand. Exactly how will this reduce CO2 emissions? The utility won’t be able to guarantee uninterrupted service for the tens of thousands of customers who want to switch to natural gas from heating oil, which emits 38% more CO2. About a quarter of New York households rely on heating oil.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the average household that uses natural gas for heating this winter will spend $580 compared to $1,501 for heating oil and $1,162 for electricity. A household that uses natural gas for space and water heating instead of electricity will save about $2,400 per year.
Consider this another parable of how the political campaign to ban fossil fuels is detached from energy and economic reality. And when reality bites and consumers suffer, politicians like Mr. Cuomo blame someone else to deflect from their own policy mistakes.