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National Grid holds first public meeting on gas supply options

Commercial natural gas meter in Riverhead for National

Commercial natural gas meter in Riverhead for National Grid. Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

Green-energy advocates on Monday crowded a public forum outlining options for the region’s future natural gas needs, urging National Grid and the state to opt for conservation and renewable sources instead of costly new measures to bolster supply.

The meeting at the Hicksville Community Center was the first of six the company agreed to hold as part of a settlement with the state last year after its controversial moratorium on new gas hookups led Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to threaten to revoke the British-based company’s franchise to operate in the state. National Grid implemented the moratorium after the state twice rejected partner Williams Co.’s environmental permits for a 23.5-mile undersea gas pipeline called the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project to increase local supply by 14 percent.

Protesters chanting, “The people have spoken — renewables now,” dominated the public speaking portion of the event, questioning assertions in National Grid’s report about the need for more natural gas, and demanding that the company follow mandates in new state climate law.

“Bringing in more fracked, radioactive gas is not the answer,” said Ed Power of the Rockaways.   

National Grid employees manned stations at the community center, each outlining an option the company said will partly or fully alleviate a long-term supply shortage it predicts will impact the region over the next several years. 

Among the options proposed were a new liquefied natural gas offshore port in either the Atlantic Ocean or the Long Island Sound at a cost of $1.9 billion to $2.22 billion; a new liquefied natural gas import terminal to be fed by tankers, at a cost of up to $2.78 billion; a peak-season liquid natural gas terminal at up to $2.54 billion; a series of barges to feed liquefied natural gas at up to $2.42 billion, and an expansion of natural gas capacity at a transmission line in Staten Island, at a cost of up to $2.63 billion.

The company did not outline the impact any of the projects would have on rates.

One of the least expensive options involved increasing the capacity of the existing Iroquois natural gas pipeline that National Grid sold its interest in in 2015 but still provides a crucial supply link to the region, connecting at Commack. The cost for additional gas compression facilities would be $1.1 billion to $2.22 billion.

National Grid is also proposing its original plan for a 23.5 mile natural gas supply line under New York and New Jersey waterways to increase local capacity by 14 percent. The $1.83 billion Northeast Supply Enhancement project, by Williams Company, has twice been rejected by New York State for needed environmental permits.

But the more than 50 green-energy advocates who crowded the meeting and held a rally before it started urged the company to instead turn to measures such as electrification of heating systems, demand reduction and efficiency strategies such as sealing homes to prevent heat loss — all part of the options National Grid included in its list of 10 options.

John Bruckner, president of National Grid’s New York operations, in an interview, said the company didn’t necessarily favor any of the alternatives, he agreed that multiple options will “absolutely” be part of the solution, and that energy efficiency and demand reduction “will be a part of any solution.”

Lee Ziesche, an organizer for the Sane Energy Project, charged the options were “skewed to make the Williams pipeline look like a better option than it is,” and she urged the company to follow “climate law and climate science, which says to go green. That’s where we should be putting our money.”

Jossi Fritz-Mauer, a Bethpage resident and member of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, encouraged National Grid to consider the electrification solution that includes heat pumps fed by solar energy, as he was doing for his own home. “I don’t believe a meaningful solution exists when it comes to natural gas infrastructure,” he said. “We should be electrifying everything.”

National Grid released  an outline of its proposed options last month.

Meetings schedule

Here’s a list of upcoming public meetings and locations on National Grid's alternatives to address the region’s long-term gas supply constraints:

Thursday, 6-8 p.m.: YMCA, 89-25 Parsons Blvd., Jamaica.

March 23, 6-8 p.m.: Brentwood Public Library, 34 Second Ave., Brentwood.

March 24, 6-8 p.m.: Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

March 25, 6-8 p.m.: Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd, Brooklyn.

March 31, 6-8 p.m.: Fire Department, 540 Roanoke Ave., Riverhead.

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