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BUILDING WORK UNDER WAY JANUARY 1, 1924, GREATER NEW YORK
NOTE.- Machine switching switchboards cut into service from 6 weeks to several months after W. E. completion dates.
It will be observed that there is an appreciable improvement in respect to the acceptance of applications for service but it is important that the company's building and equipment program be progressed, in order that those who deserve to use telephone service may not feel that they are being unduly deprived of a social facility which is now regarded as indispensable in business and personal intercourse.
TELEPHONE SERVICE GENERALLY
A system of detailed inspections of traffic, and of inside and outside plant conditions, has been developed which is designed to bring necessary improvements to the attention of the operating companies. These inspections are systematically checked to determine that recommendations are complied with. In this way
a great deal of improvement has been observed. In the smaller companies it has been found that considerable work of an advisory character is necessary in order to acquaint those in charge with the necessity for action.
Conditions in the State outside of the city of New York are not so troublesome as they are in the metropolitan district although the demand for service is substantially proportional. In certain areas a limited amount of congestion exists but the corporations serving these localities have plans under way which it is believed will afford sufficient capacity so that embargoes may not be necessary.
Numerous complaints have been received during the year with reference to service supplied by smaller companies which are excepted by law from the jurisdiction of the Commission. Many of these companies are of sufficient importance and the business which they do is of such a size as to warrant the supervision of their service. In this respect the statutory limitation of investment of less than $10,000 operates to deprive the public of the benefits which the Commission's inspection force is able to effect through constructive criticism.
The year's experience in the continued use of the present standard of 537 British thermal units per cubic foot has been satisfactory. Tests assiduously conducted have shown that the corporations engaged in selling gas to the public have conformed closely to this standard.
The question of capacity is one of the present most serious problems for the gas industry. It was anticipated that the general introduction of electricity would decrease the demand for gas, but instead there has been a steady increase in the demand, coming largely from industrial users. Just now another new demand is manifesting itself, that is, gas for house heating. It must be borne in mind that the convenience which comes with the use of gas, the relief of the customer from the necessity of keeping his coal bin or
oil tank filled, the absence of dust and discomfort attendant upon ashes and the annual or periodic renewal of the coal supply, not to mention the anxiety such as was experienced during the coal strike in the early part of the year point unerringly to a coming demand which will be greater than the corporations can properly supply with their present capacities. This condition makes necessary an intensive study of plant conditions, distribution systems. and rate structures and invites determinations on the part of those entrusted with the management of the properties in preparation for the future activities of the industry. Some of the corporations are testing the situation through trial rates and installations, and it is believed that these tests will serve to enforce the need for the immediate and comprehensive rehabilitation of many of the existing plants.
Gas meter testing continues to increase in direct proportion to the growth of the corporations. The house building boom which has extended throughout the State has brought with it an excessive demand on the Commission's testing force. Over 508,000 gas meters have been tested by the Commission's employees during the year. Of this number, 435,000 were tested for use in the metropolitan district. This number includes many meters which have been repaired after having been in service for the period deemed reasonable, which most of the corporations now set at seven years.
LITIGATION RESULTING FROM GAS LEGISLATION
As a result of the enactment of Chapter 899 of the Laws of 1923, above mentioned, providing a maximum rate of one dollar for gas supplied in the city of New York, the Consolidated Gas Company of New York, The Brooklyn Union Gas Company, The Flatbush Gas Company, the Richmond Hill and Queens County Gas Light Company, The Woodhaven Gas Light Company, The Jamaica Gas Light Company, The Newtown Gas Company, the New York and Queens Gas Company, the New York and Richmond Gas Company, The Bronx Gas and Electric Company, The East River Gas Company of Long Island City, the Queens Borough Gas and Electric Company, the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company, the Kings County Lighting Company, the Northern Union Gas Company, the New Amsterdam Gas Company, the Central Union Gas Company and The Standard Gas Light Company of the City of New York instituted proceedings in the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York te have the Act in question declared unconstitutional because confiscatory and for injunctions restraining the Commission and the Attorney General from attempting to enforce its provisions.
Stays were granted pending trial. The Commission appeared before the Statutory Court in the various proceedings by its Counsel and filed answers and briefs in opposition to injunctions. The Statutory Court granted injunctions pendente lite and referred the cases back to the District Courts for trial. The District Courts appointed special masters to take the testimony.