Turning on gas for 1,000 homes

More than 1,000 homes in Long Island can now connect to natural gas, thanks to our initiative that cuts upfront cost for customers. And it’s been a big team effort, explains Priya Dasani.

Hundreds of households in the Long Island village of East Hills are enjoying the benefits of gas heating – including bills that are 20% lower than oil. And many more can take advantage when they’re ready. It’s all down to how we’ve expanded our network and service by working really closely with the community, allowing many more people to benefit from cheaper, greener energy.

Cutting the cost of connecting 

Under New York State Public Services Commission’s regulation, or tariff, we have to give customers connecting to our service up to 100 feet of gas main in the street for free. But if they’re more than 100 feet from our network they have to pay for connection. Those costs, plus the bill for converting heating from oil, can take the total for switching to gas past $15,000. So new connections usually only happen if a certain number of homes commit at once, spreading the cost. 

Our Neighbourhood Expansion programme, agreed with the Commission, made the installation of mains and services completely free of charge. In East Hills, we’ve laid more than 15 miles of gas main to serve more than 1,000 customers, based on commitment from 320. 

Teamwork hits targets and beats deadlines 

The customers all signed up by summer 2015, after eight months of grassroots efforts, including large community meetings and mailings to explain the benefits of gas. A lot of people in National Grid made it happen, including our gas sales and marketing, customer fulfilment and government relations teams. It also took buy-in from civic leaders and politicians, including the Mayor of East Hills. Even the State Senator gave his support. 

In five months of construction, we kept disruption to a minimum by laying mains under the grass strip between the homes and the curb, largely avoiding the road and also cutting paving costs. We also finished slightly ahead of time. Our Gas Construction Engineer Scott Held was on hand in the community, throughout the project, to answer people’s questions in person. 

By autumn 2016, 415 homes had converted to gas. And the commission gave us the go-ahead to install up to 125,000 feet of mains in other Long Island projects during 2016.

Published: June 2017