National Grid is aiming to connect natural gas service for the customers it denied in New York City within two weeks of making contact with them, according to an implementation plan filed with state regulators this week, which also highlights plans to manage an ongoing supply shortage.
The plan comes in response to an order from the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) earlier this month directing the company to connect service for more than 1,100 customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. National Grid imposed a moratorium on new gas service in the city, indicating last month that it has been unable to process 2,600 applications representing 20,000 commercial, residential and multi-family units without additional infrastructure to bring more gas supplies into the region. The situation has stirred the ire of developers, residents and politicians in the region.
The first objective of the plan is contacting all applicants outlined in the PSC’s order. Once contact has been made, the utility said its goal is to connect them within two weeks after they’ve confirmed essential records such as permits, pressure testing and building certificates are in order for service. The company said it has been making “steady progress” reaching applicants.
The implementation plan outlines commitments to reconnect all residential and small commercial inactive accounts that were denied service, as well as single-meter, nonheating accounts in multi-unit apartment buildings. National Grid said it would carefully monitor connections and adjust accordingly should it not be able to connect additional customers as it’s working within a limited gas capacity range.
“As we’ve said from the beginning, should additional supply become available, we will revisit each application outside of the original criteria to determine whether or not we’re able to connect any other additional customers to our system without jeopardizing the safety, reliability and integrity of gas supply for our existing 1.8 million customers” in the city, said National Grid’s New York President John Bruckner.
National Grid has warned for most of the year that without additional infrastructure to serve the city, it won’t be able to meet increasing demand. The company has continued to spar with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose administration has twice denied key permits for Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC’s Northeast Supply Enhancement project. Northeast Supply is fully subscribed by National Grid subsidiaries serving customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. The state has also denied other projects in recent years, such as the Constitution Pipeline, which would bring more supplies into the city.
Consolidated Edison Co. (Con Ed), which shares infrastructure with National Grid serving the city, has also imposed a moratorium on new gas service in suburbs to the north of the city in Westchester County.
To better manage the supply shortage, especially during winter peaks, National Grid plans to expand its demand response and energy efficiency programs, according to the implementation plan. As part of those efforts, the utility said it would take the “unprecedented action” of contacting large firm customers that previously received interruptible service to incentivize them to go back to nonfirm service. Those customers, the utility said, could activate back-up alternative fuel systems, such as those that use oil, to reduce gas load during winter peak hours.
“While these unprecedented measures will provide some ability to connect this relatively small set of applicants and customers in the short-term, we still need additional, long-term firm supplies of natural gas,” Bruckner said.
National Grid has also arranged for truck deliveries of compressed natural gas (CNG), filed details for portable CNG stations and intends to use a higher than usual percentage of gas supply from spot commodity markets.
Environmental groups have accused the company of fabricating the supply shortage, while the Cuomo administration has questioned its reliability planning protocols. The PSC launched a review of the gas constraints earlier this year. When the commission issued the connection order, Cuomo’s office also said that investigation would be expanded to review how National Grid prepared for the upcoming winter heating season.
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