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National Grid says it will turn down NY gas customers unless pipeline is built

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National Grid says it will turn down NY gas customers unless pipeline is built

National Grid USA said it will not provide natural gas distribution service to new customers in Long Island and New York City service areas until New York state reconsiders the rejection of a permit for an expansion of the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC system that would serve National Grid utilities.

"While we continue to receive applications for new and expanded firm natural gas service from residential, commercial and industrial customers in Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island, none will be processed until the permits are received and the project is allowed to proceed," National Grid said in a May 20 email.

The move came after a May 15 decision in which the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected Transco's request for a Clean Water Act permit for its Northeast Supply Enhancement project designed to bring an additional 400 MMcf/d of gas into the state. The state agency said the Williams Cos. Inc. pipeline company failed to show how the project would comply with water quality standards. The agency also said the estimates it reviewed showed that construction would push mercury and copper levels past environmental standards in waters around the project.

National Grid said it remains "cautiously optimistic" that the project will proceed and be ready for service by the winter of 2020-2021. When the project does move forward, utilities will fulfill all requests for gas service in the order they were received, the company said.

"We anticipate having more information on the status of the Northeast Supply Enhancement permitting process by the end of June for all approvals, including environmental permits required from New Jersey," National Grid said.

New York's resistance to new pipelines in this case and others has caused utilities in the state to express concern over their ability to get gas. National Grid's announcement is the latest development in the ongoing political battle. With Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to move the state toward renewable energy and away from natural gas, utilities such as National Grid and Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. have pushed back by saying they will have to reduce services due to a lack of new pipeline capacity. On Jan. 18, ConEd announced a planned moratorium on new oil-to-gas conversions for customers in part of the utility's Westchester service territory north of New York City.

In a statement that followed the New York decision on Northeast Supply Enhancement, American Gas Association President and CEO Karen Harbert said a lack of gas transportation infrastructure in the Northeast could drive energy costs and emissions up and isolate the population from the benefits of natural gas.

The proposed pipeline has attracted opposition from residents, elected officials and environmental groups who viewed the state's decision to deny the permit as a win. These include 350.org, an environmental group that has said New York should remain focused on Cuomo's "green new deal," and the project is unnecessary because gas demand is flat.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Northeast Supply Enhancement project May 3. The $927 million expansion consists of a new compressor station in Somerset County, N.J., 23.5 miles of offshore pipeline between New Jersey and New York, over 3 miles of pipeline in Middlesex County, N.J., 10 miles of pipeline in Lancaster County, Pa., and modifications to an existing compressor station in Chester County, Pa.