Con Edison has told New Yorkers the truth some of them don’t want to hear; a moratorium on new natural gas connections is coming to the City without NESE.
Con Edison is making it unmistakably clear; New York City will face major natural gas shortages without the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline project. It has done so in a remarkable letter issued by one of its executives to New York elected officials. The letter is summarized in a short piece at PoliticoNewYork, but it’s important to read the whole thing.
Here is the full text of that ConEdison letter, with emphasis added and my own observations and interpretations in red:
April 5, 2019
I read with Interest your stated opposition to a proposed natural gas pipeline project being proposed by National Grid. Although Con Edison has no role In the development of this project, we do, nonetheless, share the transmission Infrastructure that allows natural gas to flow In the five boroughs, whether they are customers of Con Edison or National Grid. To the extent their project is not approved or built, it would impact our ability to purchase and, thus, deliver natural gas for our customers in New York City.
Let there be no doubt the City will pay a price and experience the same problem Westchester County is facing — a moratorium — if we cannot pipe in more gas to replace heavy oil and reduce emissions, as we have over the last decade.
National Grid has been clear about their potential inability to serve new gas customers absent new interstate pipeline infrastructure, and Con Edison shares those concerns about adequacy of natural gas supply coming Into New York City. To the extent we are not able to meet the demand needs of our customers for new or expanded natural gas service, we would have to move quickly to declare a moratorium on new gas connections in our New York City service area as well.
And, there it is: no gas for you if you oppose the NESE project pipeline.
As you may be aware, earlier this year Con Edison announced a moratorium on new natural gas connections in most of Westchester County. We announced this moratorium due to our inability to meet rising demand for natural gas for both residential and commercial development without new natural gas interstate pipeline infrastructure being built to supply to this region. Natural gas supplies are abundant to meet the needs of our customers, but without the new infrastructure to transport those supplies, we cannot meet the growing demand.
We live next door to a huge supply of inexpensive, low emission natural gas that will provide for our needs but the Governor’s political pandering to special interest groups has created an intolerable situation that will now affect YOU if something isn’t done to stop the madness.
Con Edison has a duty to deliver natural gas safely and reliably to every firm customer on the days of peak demand, which are typically the coldest day of the year. If we begin to forecast that we cannot meet the demand for gas on the days of peak gas demand, we cannot responsibly add new customers, Rather, we must preserve our ability to deliver gas to our existing customers. Each year Con Edison provides over 1,700 new gas connections. Moratoriums on new gas connections would mean that these new residential and commercial developments, oil-to-gas conversions, new restaurants, and renovations will have to find alternatives to natural gas for their heating and cooking needs.
Kiss New York City growth and progress on reducing emissions goodbye without the NESE pipeline project. Unlike flaky solar and wind projects that only feed power into the grid when the sun shines or the wind blows, and frequently when not needed at inflated values, we have to keep you warm and provide energy when you need it.
The inability to meet natural gas demand without new interstate pipeline Infrastructure has been a growing concern of Con Edison’s since the 2016 denial of permits for the Constitution pipeline project. Since then we have been working to find clean heating alternatives to lower the demand for natural gas through our Smart Solutions efforts, but the available technologies were not enough to forestall our need for a moratorium across most of Westchester County, nor would they be in New York City.
If you suppose renewables and other gimmicks are going to save your behinds forget about it. It’s not happening to any degree that makes a difference. Face up to the fact we need pipelines and stop your fantasizing if you want relief.
Con Edison has been a leader in transitioning the New York City energy arid, the most complex in the world, to a grid that will facilitate the transition to a clean energy future. We envision a future where our City’s energy grid, powering the lives of some 10 million people, is free from overdependence on fossil fuels and is sustained fuels and Is sustained by clean, renewable energy sources, like solar and wind energies, and battery storage. Coupled with smart technologies that provide customers the tools to make wiser energy choices, the transition to a clean energy future ls already underway at Con Edison.
Look, we’re playing along with your green energy tricks, but they aren’t doing much yet and aren’t like to do so anytime soon. If you don’t allow us to get the gas we need via pipeline, the only alternative is rationing of the supply. That means putting a smart meter in your house that allows us to control how much energy you get. Get it?
We are working to decrease demand for natural gas through efficiency and adoption of new building heating technologies that would replace the demand for natural gas with demand for electricity. As we make the transition , however, residential and commercial customers will continue to choose natural gas for their heating and cooking needs. Natural gas has a role in the transition to a clean energy future, but the current demand-supply imbalance without new natural gas infrastructure will mean moratoriums on new gas connections, leaving customers with limited choices for their heating and cooking needs in the interim.
We are doing everything we can on our own to reduce demand and avoid the need for more infrastructure as long as possible but you need to understand that’s just tinkering around the edges of the problem, which is too little access to plentiful natural gas next door. If you refuse pipelines, you’re leaving us with only the harshest measures to ration the existing supply; moratoriums and meters that shut you off when too many people want to keep warm.
Ultimately, it Is our shared responsibility to ensure that New Yorkers have access to affordable and cleaner energies.W e know that our customers want clean, safe and reliable energy, and they want It to be delivered affordably. We have to work together to achieve this clean energy future with an orderly transition that makes it accessible to energy consumers and doesn’t threaten the economic health of the region or access to opportunity.
The wackos and other politicians who want you to oppose the NESE pipeline project as a way to force green energy before its time are playing with fire. We don’t have that luxury, so, please, don’t be a useful idiot to their mad cause.
We would be happy to meet with you and your staff to talk about these issues and the concerns we have going forward In New York City.
Look, we understand you have to demagogue these issues to some extent but at least talk to us in private before you commit yourself to foolishness.
Government, Regional & Community Affairs
And, there you have it. Con Edison is taking on the crazies and Governor Cuomo. Let’s hope the latter is paying attention, although I fear the die has been cast with the latter’s Presidential ambitions. At least someone is speaking the truth, though, which is the beginning of wisdom.