New York City public housing faces an energy crisis brought on by an inadequate supply of natural gas the City, at every opportunity, says it doesn’t want.
Three fascinating articles appeared recently about New York City’s natural gas usage, The City, like much of New York, is an exceedingly strange place by normal standards; one where the facts must be roundly denied in favor of the political correctness rules of the day.
It’s a place where natural gas usage and benefits therefrom (lower carbon emissions, fewer asthma deaths, reduced costs, etc.) grow in direct proportion to the rhetoric of a radical anti-gas mayor who a corrupt anti-gas governor indirectly accuses of bribery. Only in New York, but the bottom line is this; New York City needs more natural gas and pipelines.
The first article is from the New York Times and is ostensibly about a battle, between twice-renamed Mayor Bill de Blasio (once known as Warren Wilhem) and Governor Andrew Corruptocrat Cuomo, regarding who’s to blame for New York City Housing Authority projects being heatless:
The conditions that left hundreds of thousands of New York City Housing Authority residents without heat and hot water during a record cold snap, as ancient boilers struggled to keep up with falling temperatures, were decades in the making…
As for the Housing Authority, often called Nycha, Mr. de Blasio has committed $82 million to replace the 39 boilers that heat 104 buildingswith the worst heating problems. On Friday, he said he was open to a “constructive way to speed up contracting,” but had doubts that Mr. Cuomo was interested in anything more than political sparring…
The problems at the Housing Authority have been exacerbated, if not caused, by decades of federal disinvestment, the mayor reiterated…
Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Committee and former chair of the Public Housing Committee, said the city, state and federal government all need to step up to help…
“Nycha’s problems are so overwhelming that it requires funding from every level of government,” Mr. Torres added…
Community Voices Heard has called on the city to invest $2 billion to fix all the boilers across Nycha. The Legal Aid Society, which has threatened to sue the city if they don’t rebate up to $15 million in rent for tenants left without heat and hot water during the winter, says the city needs to commit to a $1 billion per year capital plan for the authority.
There are so many things that can be said about this discussion, starting with the obvious; having the government as a landlord is about as bad as it gets, a virtual guarantee of incompetence.
Secondly, the blame game is an art form in New York, with literally everyone else responsible for everything. The world owes New York City residents a living, you see.
Thirdly, as readers of this blog are well aware, the City has been on a highly successful crash program to convert everyone else’s boilers from burning heavy oil to clean natural gas and it’s yielded huge improvements in air quality. It’s just that the City apparently exempted much of itself from those mandates and left the poor with the bill.
What’s most interesting, though, is the complete lack of discussion, in this article and in another preceding it, of the fact the new boilers would, of necessity, be natural gas boilers and demand a supply of gas, as well as pipelines to deliver it.
A New York Post article provides some explanation as to why such discussion doesn’t make it into New York Times reports; it just isn’t part of the politically correct template for energy reporting:
New York gets about 60 percent of its natural gas from fracking sites in Pennsylvania. Has the mayor proposed a shift away from natural gas for heating? Well, no; it would be impossible, and no amount of political rhetoric can change the reality that New Yorkers prefer not to freeze in the dark.
Accordingly, de Blasio has taken the long view, promoting goals the massive costs of which would emerge long after he’s left office.
The mayor says things like, “We will reduce the emissions our city produces by 80 percent by 2050” and, “We must shed our reliance on fossil fuels here and now.”
While de Blasio depends on natural gas and will need a lot more of it to supply those new public housing boilers he’s determined to get someone else to pay for, he’s equally determined to halt the use of the stuff. Such is the demagogic nature of all City and Empire State politics. It’s lies fashioned as promises.
Still, the real world must go on and others are left to tell the truth. One such person is Charlene Nimmons, the former resident association president for Wyckoff Garden Houses in Brooklyn and the CEO of Public Housing Communities Inc., who recently offered a guest commentary to the Pipeline & Gas Journal providing the facts of life in New York City (emphasis added):
The finger-pointing among government officials began quickly when thousands of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents were literally left in the cold as the temperature dropped to record lows.
So far, unsurprisingly, no one is taking the blame for the unacceptable state of public housing heating infrastructure, which failed in dozens of buildings. Yet resident leaders have been calling for upgrades for years, warning that exactly what did happen would happen…
Elected officials have also been laying blame for heating problems at the feet of the federal government. It is certainly true that federal cuts have hit NYCHA hard. But that is no excuse for failing to protect the vulnerable residents of public housing residents. NYCHA is now saving tens of millions of dollars a year in fuel costs after converting a number of its buildings from heating oil to natural gas over the past few years.
That money should be dedicated to further conversions, thereby creating a virtuous cycle where NYCHA is saving millions and millions more each year to fund its own capital program. Those funds can also be used to greatly improve energy efficiency, saving even more money on fuel costs…
This past winter freeze was a prime example. The heat was on, but the windy conditions entered our homes with a vengeance, causing a severe drop in temperature inside. So the buildings blast hot steam, wasting fuel and roasting residents…
A simple weatherization program would significantly reduce fuel costs for Wyckoff and other complexes alike, while improving quality of life, and better protecting the environment. These upgrades would add to fuel-cost savings and help fund additional infrastructure upgrades, accelerating needed repairs until the system is finally safe and sound for residents.
One potential problem with this plan, however, is that New York City is already maxing out on available natural gas during its coldest days. According to Con Ed, natural-gas demand has increased 25% in the past six years. The city’s largest source of natural gas, Transco, set new records in the amount of fuel delivered.
Groups like the New York Building Congress have warned this will lead to supply issues soon because there are not enough pipelines coming into the city. So government officials must also allow new connections to existing natural gas supply to fuel NYCHA conversions to natural gas, creating our cycle of costs savings and repairs.
Specifically, one project up for approval is the Northeast Supply Enhancement line, which would guarantee the supply needed for new conversions and increased demand. It must be built. By taking these prudent steps, our government officials can stop the blame game and immediately start delivering results for NYCHA residents who remain at great risk as the winter continues. There’s no excuse to leave us out in the cold.
Finally, an adult stands up amidst the crowd of politicos blaming each other and said what must be done. The Williams (Transco) Northeast Supply Enhancement is part off the solution; a big part, in fact:
The company is currently developing the Northeast Supply Enhancement project to expand and upgrade the existing energy infrastructure in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York to provide consumers access to an additional 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (enough natural gas to serve the daily needs of about 2.3 million homes) in time for the 2019/2020 winter heating season.
The Northeast Supply Enhancement project will provide service to National Grid – the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern United States. Once complete, the project will serve growing natural gas demand in the Northeast, including the 1.8 million customers served by National Grid in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. National Grid estimates that with the added capacity provided by the project, natural gas could displace the equivalent of 3,005,797 gallons of heating oil, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 2.4 million tons per year.
Recent cold weather and subsequent heating issues at New York City Housing Authority complexes underscores the need for heating system upgrades. National Grid is investing over more than $200 million per year to convert customers from oil to natural gas in New York City and Long Island. The Northeast Supply Enhancement project will help ensure that reliable gas supplies are available to support these conversions.
Yes, indeed. Forget de Blasio and Corruptocrat and their stupid war of who’s to blame and who’s the most “progressive.” Real progress comes with action and readers can be part of it by contributing their support to the Northeast Supply Enhancement project in several ways. Go here to find out how. Do it now!