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NY Building Congress: City needs more gas pipelines to offset Indian Point closure

Staff Reports

A new report released by the New York Building Congress says New York City needs more natural gas pipelines before the planned closure of the Indian Point nuclear plant.

The study titled “Electricity Outlook: Powering New York City’s Future” says that New York City’s need for energy will expand as Indian Point’s scheduled 2021 deactivation approaches. It points out that 81.5% of the city’s electricity comes from natural gas burned in the five boroughs—and that more will be needed to keep New York’s lights on once the Indian Point nuclear plant is taken offline.

“New natural-gas pipeline capacity with direct connection to New York City and Westchester County also will be necessary to meet expected growth in demand,” the report says. “Ample supplies of natural gas are critical, as almost all in-city electricity generation comes from natural-gas burning plants.”

The report highlights four natural gas pipeline projects currently under development, including Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, which would bring added natural gas “directly into New York City, where demand exists and is growing.”

The city’s move to transition public and private buildings away from burning heavy oil for heat has accelerated this need.

“Ample supplies of natural gas are critical, as almost all in-city electricity generation comes from natural gas burning plants,” the report continues. “Demand for natural gas, which has increased by 25 percent in Con Edison’s service territory since 2011, has been largely driven by New York City’s Clean Heat Program, which has produced a shift from heavy oil to natural gas in over 3,000 buildings. In addition, household demand for natural gas has continued to increase along with the overall population.”

In its list of recommendations, the report urges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to promptly approve Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project.

“FERC should promptly approve the recent application for Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhance­ment project. In addition, the State and City should work together to convene a working group of key stakeholders, including utilities and natural gas suppliers, to develop a strategy for the planning and approval of new natural gas pipelines directly into New York City.”

The report also suggests that city consumers would benefit from the increased supply and depressed prices that would accompany additional natural gas pipeline capacity.