Extra Charge: Thousands of National Grid Customers Hit With $100 Penalty
The extra charge you may have heard many National Grid customers complaining about didn't coming from their electrical box, it was found on a recent bill.
The utility provider says they've assessed over $1.2 million in fines to customers across New York State who've denied them access into their homes for inspection of gas service pipelines and meters.
Jared Paventi, a spokesperson for National Grid's CNY office, says the inspections are a safety requirement put in place by the New York State Public Service Commission. Speaking to WIBX 950, Paventi said in 2015, the PSC required utility companies to inspect services lines up to and including the meter. In 2017, he says, the PSC expanded that requirement to include indoor meters and pipelines.
"We can't just walk in to people's homes and inspect the meters," Paventi said, indoor inspections require an appointment where the owner would allow entry to workers conducting the review. Outreach to customers notifying them of this has gone on for a couple years, he said, and has included leaving door hangers on front doors, bill inserts, special mailers direct to customers, outbound calls to homes and social media advertising.
However, as of this posting, some 3,000 customers in Upstate New York - to include National Grid's Western, Central, and Eastern New York regions - still have not complied, he said.
This means they either haven't called to schedule an appointment, have outright refused entry for an inspection, or have missed at least 2 scheduled appointments to have the work done.
"The inspection itself takes just 15-minutes," Paventi said.
The work was expected to be completed by the end of 2020, but because of the pandemic, he said, an extension was granted through October of 2021. Since then, the $100 fines have been appearing on some customer bills.
Those who still need to have the inspection completed can call National Grid to schedule the appointment at 1-888-802-2010.
Paventi said fines aren't intended to be punitive, but emphasized the importance of the inspections to ensure safety to customers. When asked additional fines would be assessed beyond the $100, Paventi said, 'No'. However, with the Winter Shutoff Moratorium approaching on April 15, he did say some customers could have service turned off after that date if they don't contact National Grid to schedule the inspection.