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National Grid offers options to meet projected gas supply constraints

In the next 15 years, National Grid expects

In the next 15 years, National Grid expects "continued growth in natural gas demand — even after factoring in incremental energy efficiency and electrification." Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

Options to meet long-term natural gas supply constraints for the downstate region include a deep-water liquefied natural gas port for the waters off Long Island, two barges that could deliver liquefied gas during peak demand times and a pipeline that National Grid has long proposed, according to a company report.

The report was released Monday in response to a state settlement last year over its controversial moratorium on new gas hookups, In it, National Grid laid out the pros and cons of seven different large-scale and so-called distributed solutions to its gas supply constraints, along with green-energy options to help further curtail use.

Growth in natural gas usage across the downstate region is expected to increase in coming years, the company said, but at a slower rate than the historic annual jump of 2.4%. The company cited growth in electrification and the anticipated jump in electric heat pumps, along with efficiency measures, efficient appliances and demand-reducing programs, in projecting that demand could slow to 0.8% to 1.1% per year through 2035.

But National Grid said increased demand continues to strain the system. To handle short-term supply worries, National Grid had 42 trucks last winter and 108 this winter at the ready to deliver compressed national gas into the system, when needed, on peak demand days. Earlier this year the company had said warming weather meant the company didn’t need to deploy those planned short-term measures this year. The company also said it spent $8 million to increase efficiency measures and cut use on peak days.

In the next 15 years, the company said, “continued growth in natural gas demand — even after factoring in incremental energy efficiency and electrification under recently proposed and agreed to programs — creates a supply vs. demand gap which must be anticipated and resolved.”

Among three large-scale infrastructure options to meet the increased demand is an offshore LNG deep-water port for the waters off New York that would take six to eight years to complete, the company said. “There is a potential location in Long Island Sound that would enable delivery of up to 400 million dekatherms per day to Commack, NY, or Hunts Point, NY,” the report says. “An alternative location exists off the South Shore in the Atlantic Ocean” with an underwater connection to an existing subsea pipeline.

If chosen, the facility would be a “highly reliable source of supply,” National Grid said. But it was found to be the most expensive in both low- and high-demand scenarios.

Long Islanders and lawmakers have rejected new liquefied natural gas terminals, including one called Broadwater proposed for Long Island Sound.

National Grid also proposed a new land-based LNG import terminal that would take five to six years to complete on a site that has yet to be identified.

The third large-scale project is the company’s already proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement project, or NESE, by Williams Co. The 23.5-mile, $1 billion pipeline beneath New York and New Jersey waterways could be completed in under two years, National Grid said. The project, which have yet to receive needed environmental permits from New York and New Jersey, was the subject of a moratorium by National Grid last year that evoked Cuomo’s ire and led to a settlement in which the utility was required to pay $36 million in shareholder funds and provide gas service to those affected.

Critics of National Grid's efforts to increase gas capacity to the region were quick to pounce.

“National Grid is peddling the same old dirty energy solutions: more fracked gas delivered by dangerous means, whether it’s pipelines, barges, or trucks," said Laura Shindell, an organizer for activist group Food & Water Action.

Among the "distributed options," the company proposed a peak liquid natural gas facility that would require changes to laws that limit land storage of the fuel to 70,000 gallons, among other requirements.

It also proposed LNG barges that would need new dock facilities and interconnecting gas systems. They also could require further state and federal approvals. The barge proposal would take five to six years to complete.

And the company said it could undertake a project of gas compression on an existing pipeline to Long Island called the Iroquois Gas Transmission system. The project would require new federal and state approvals and take around three years to complete, the company said. It would be among the least costly options if lower demand scenarios prove correct.

On the green-energy front, National Grid could boost measures to make customer gas usage more efficient, but that would require new policies and a greater-than-threefold increase in customer participation as a percentage of total natural gas sales by 2025. “Success will require an incremental 20,000 to 40,000 customers per year starting in 2021 to complete energy efficiency programs,” the company said.

To reduce demand, the company would need to retain all current customers who’ve agreed to curtail usage during peak times as part of a program, then increase the program to “reach roughly half of all residential customers” over the next five years. National Grid has 1.9 million downstate customers, including around 600,000 on Long Island, 93% of which are residential.

The company said that while large-scale solutions could over time resolve the longer-term supply constraints, the utility would rely on efficiency and demand response over the shorter term. The plans such as barges or a new liquefied gas terminal may have to be combined with other measures, such as efficiency and demand response, to meet goals.

The company will hold six "information sessions" about the options beginning in early March.

Public meetings

National Grid will hold six meetings, all from 6-8 p.m., to review the proposals and seek public input.

  • March 9: Hicksville Community Center, 28 W. Carl St., Hicksville
  • March 12: YMCA, 89-25 Parsons Blvd., Jamaica
  • March 23: Brentwood Public Library, 34 Second Ave., Brentwood
  • March 24: Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn
  • March 25: Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd., Brooklyn
  • March 31: Fire Department, 540 Roanoke Ave., Riverhead

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