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Ever since May of this year, the utility company National Grid has had a moratorium on new natural gas customers in certain areas around New York City. The reason? They don’t have enough gas in the pipeline to serve more people. This is a problem that’s gone largely ignored in the media and you rarely hear any politicians talking about. However, one CBS New York reporter finally caught up with Governor Andrew Cuomo as he was dedicating a new bridge construction project this week and put the question to him. In an attempt to answer, let’s just say he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory.

SEE ALSO: The Media’s no good, very bad week (and what’s coming next)

“What are you going to do about National Grid, which is withholding gas hook-ups from businesses, from people?” Kramer asked. “Governor, I wonder what you say to people who can’t open their apartments and their homes because they turned off the gas to do renovations and now National Grid won’t let them turn it back on? To a Chinese American society in Bensonhurst that can’t provide meals?”

“If you’re saying that there are current gas clients who are being denied gas, that’s a health and safety violation,” Cuomo said. “No utility company should be doing that.”

When pressed again by Kramer as to what he’s going to do about it, Cuomo said, “The Public Service Commission should … You tell me where and we will have the Public Service Commission investigate.”

When told of the problems in Farmingdale, Bensonhurst and Park Slope, Cuomo said, “I’m not aware of any situation where an existing client couldn’t get gas.

You’ll notice that the Governor is only answering one part of a larger question. (In fairness to Cuomo, the reporter cited examples that apply to that answer.) They’re talking about people who had existing accounts but had the gas turned off for renovations, repairs and such and now National Grid won’t turn on their gas supply again. This is a valid question because if they already had an account and no new services have been added, there should still be enough gas for them

But he’s not addressing the larger issue. There are construction projects either planned or underway that are hanging under a cloud. National Grid won’t approve any new customer accounts. Cuomo doesn’t want to talk about that part of it because at least in part, he helped create the problem.

This is something I wrote about back in May. The idea that anyone in America should be short of natural gas these days is kind of insane. We’re practically drowning in it. But what we lack is the infrastructure to get it everywhere it’s needed. New York sits on massive natural gas deposits, but can’t access them because Cuomo put a moratorium on all drilling. And the pipelines bringing natural gas to the Big Apple from Pennsylvania (the nearest convenient source) are old and too small.

Requests for new pipelines to be approved and expand the natural gas transport levels have been in the works for years, but Democrats (including Cuomo) have managed to shut them down because they’re saving the Earth or something. Now the natural gas chickens have come home to roost. And if Cuomo doesn’t get a new pipeline approved fast, there will be no new construction around the Big Apple that can’t operate entirely on electricity. (And even that’s going to become scarce in a few years at the rate we’re going.)

It would be nice to see CBS go back for another bite at the apple and ask Cuomo about these larger issues and long-term challenges. Sadly, the only solutions he could propose will go against his liberal values, so New York City can just do without, I suppose.

 

This is no joke. It’s not an “Onion” piece where we’re trying to fool you. In June the New York State legislature passed a horrific “energy” bill that was later signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (see New York Pulls the Trigger, Commits Energy Suicide with New Law). The new law limits carbon dioxide emissions to zero (an impossibility) by 2050. Everyone is now waking up and saying, “Oh crap, what did we just do?” You see, almost everyone in the state uses either fuel oil, natural gas or propane to heat their homes during our exceptionally cold winters. That’s all gone by 2050–no more burning fossil fuels to heat your home. Welcome to the USSR of NY.

Again, we’re not making this up! This is what state officials are saying–not too loud so New Yorkers won’t wake up all at once and realize it. But it is being said–that fossil fuels heating our homes is out in the next couple of decades:

Natural gas utilities, which provide heat to about 60 percent of New York’s homes, are facing an existential crisis as the state seeks dramatic emissions reductions requiring transformative change in the consumption of a fuel once hailed as a cleaner and cheaper alternative to oil, propane and kerosene. Natural gas usage in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors — excluding what’s used at power plants — accounted for roughly 22 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, according to data from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. To meet the state’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, as called for in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, those emissions must be eliminated. Burning gas to heat homes is unlikely to qualify for offsets, given the availability of alternatives such as geothermal or air-source heat pumps that rely on electricity. That reality poses risks and opportunities for the state’s major gas utilities. What’s more, it requires a major reframing of the state’s policy on natural gas, which currently promotes expanded gas infrastructure. (1)

From Cuomo’s former DEC lackey, Joe Martens:

Many environmental advocates were elated to see the Legislature pass a historic, sweeping climate measure last month after years of inaction. But they also know that there’s a long path ahead to implement New York’s new goals for net zero emissions by 2050. “It’s daunting in a way,” said Joe Martens, a former commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, which will play a crucial role in implementing the emissions cuts. He’s currently head of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance. “It is going to affect every aspect of New Yorkers’ lives — and if it’s implemented successfully the hope is it gets replicated elsewhere,” he said. Heating fuels will have to be virtually eliminated and replaced with electric heat pumps or other non-emitting technology. Diesel trucks and gas cars that the state can control must be phased out. Manufacturers of copper, steel, cement, pulp and aluminum will face higher energy costs and have to find ways to lower emissions or offset them. Renewable energy projects must be built at a pace not yet seen in New York to achieve a 70 percent renewable electricity target by 2030 and eliminate all power-sector emissions by 2040. (2)

We wonder when our fellow New Yorkers will wake up and realize they are so screwed. The real question is, will anyone actually be left in the state by 2050? Our guess is no, IF this idiotic law is not repealed.

(1) POLITICO New York Energy (Jul 31, 2019) – Gas utilities grapple with climate goals

(2) POLITICO New York Energy (Jul 8, 2019) – Climate implementation path

It is undeniable; adding more solar power to the grid means decreases the environmental performance of baseload energy systems and grow air pollution.

A North State Journal article about power generation in North Carolina reveals the problem introduced by too much solar power being added to the grid. Solar power is intermittent and erratic. Add too much solar power to the grid and the power plants depended upon to supply electricity are constantly shutting down and starting up again, which both economically and environmentally inefficient. It increases air pollution.

Here are the facts from the story (emphasis added):

A seven-month investigation and numerous public information requests have revealed the move to increase solar power might be leading to an increase in the very emissions alternative energy sources aim to reduce.

Duke spokeswoman Kim Crawford confirmed that increased solar power on the state’s electric grid is increasing emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), a dangerous air pollutant. She said that reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could also reverse if current solar growth continues without policy changes…

Crawford provided measurements showing that even on sunny days — when solar power is at its maximum output — more NOx pollution is released into the air than would occur if no solar electricity were used and natural gas were used instead.

That’s because traditional power plants — including cleaner burning natural gas plants — must scale back electric generation to accommodate solar energy surging onto the system when the sun rises, and power back up when the sun sets and solar energy dissipates. That starting and stopping reduces efficiency and incapacitates emission control devices, increasing pollutant levels.

On other days solar energy is erratic and can result in more frequent cycling of reserve sources, further decreasing power plant efficiency. This increased cycling can result in increased emissions and undue wear and tear on the expensive equipment…

“After committing $2 billion in tax credits, and more than $1 billion in electricity overpayments for solar power, we now learn from Duke that nitrogen oxides have actually increased, and that CO2 may be headed in the wrong direction,” said Donald van der Vaart, former secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and State Energy Policy Advisor in the McCrory administration…

“This issue deserves a re-look, and it needs to be done fast,” Dan Kish, distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, said after reviewing Duke’s data.

“It’s great for the Wall Street financiers, and those in it to make a fast buck while the sun shines, but it’s leaving us with an increasingly unstable grid and externalities such as more pollution,” Kish said. “The regulators have to remember that their job is to make sure that quick buck artists don’t pick the pockets of consumers and leave them with a weaker, less resilient grid.”

…Under its current permits in the heavily regulated market, Duke must completely shut down the backup combustion turbines when solar peaks under a full sun, then restart them when the sun recedes.

Duke wants DEQ to issue new permits allowing combustion turbines to throttle up and down from a “low load” idling operation instead of switching completely off and on as solar waxes and wanes. In its permit applications Duke said that would lower pollutant emissions and reduce stress on equipment…

Without any solar power in the mix, “a typical combined cycle combustion turbine emits NOx at approximately 9-11 lb/hr, assuming 24 hours of ‘normal’ operation,” Crawford said. That is equivalent to 264 pounds of NOx emissions daily. When those same plants are operated to supplement solar power facilities, daily emissions more than double to 624 pounds a day, based on a table in Duke’s application.

If DEQ agrees to Duke’s alternative operating scenario, a combustion turbine would emit 381 pounds of NOx daily — still 44% more pollution than operating without any solar power on the grid…

The data on carbon dioxide emissions from Duke is less certain the NOx figures. “We expect a slight increase in CO2 emissions at the plant level from turndown versus shutting down and restarting,” Crawford said.

In general, she said, increasing solar generation tends to decrease CO2 emissions if nuclear generation and other factors remain constant.

“As the amount of solar generation increases, however, this effect will diminish and could reverse at some point due to decreasing room for more efficient generation,” said Crawford. More lower efficiency generators, designed for short cycles, could ultimately be used to provide contingency power for intermittent solar, according to Crawford.

She cited studies that concluded utilities must cut solar power off from the electric grid more frequently as solar production expands. That’s because more electricity is produced than can be used or exported to other states.

North Carolina law does not allow utilities to shut off solar power when it’s not needed, with a few minor exceptions. Crawford said if Duke does not win approval of its permit modifications to allow combustion turbines to idle instead of turning off, the utility is left with only two viable options to deal with growing solar generation.

It could export excess energy to other regions, but transmission capabilities are limited.

Alternatively, Duke could dial down nuclear generation, but doing so would increase CO2 emissions. Crawford said that “it’s possible that nuclear generation could be impacted by solar; however, we cannot say that definitively at this point.”

Kish said if utilities take nuclear plants offline to accommodate solar energy it would reverse previous reductions of CO2 emissions, and wreck the economics of the grid.

“Renewable energy sounds good, but it performs terribly. If you want electricity available when you need it, you don’t want intermittent, unreliable, renewable energy,” Kish said. “It’s like a cancer on an efficient grid, with its ups-and-downs forcing other sources to pick up the slack in the most inefficient ways, which, in some cases, are more polluting.”

That last paragraph summarizes a powerful reality. Intermittent power is a hindrance not a help. Natural gas only is far more effective environmentally than solar on top of gas. but that’s not even the worst of it, because natural gas is essential to renewables development. This Duke Energy data is the Achilles Heel with respect to renewables; they’re not only uneconomic but create additional costs and additional air pollution, both of which are completely avoidable if we put away hedge-fund rent seeking and green political correctness.

RFK Jr. talks about Constitution pipeline outside the NY Capitol

ALBANY – Federal regulators allowed the Constitution Pipeline to move forward Wednesday, ruling New York took too long to deny a key permit that had been blocking construction of the proposed natural-gas line.

The decision handed down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found the state Department of Environmental Conservation waived its right to reject the necessary water-quality permit for the pipeline because the state agency failed to act in a timely manner.

The ruling comes three years after DEC denied the pipeline builder's permit application for failing "to meet New York state’s water quality standards."

It clears the way for Williams Partners LP, the gas company heading the project, to move ahead with the Pennsylvania-to-New York line, though the state is likely to challenge the decision.

The 124-mile, 30-inch-wide pipeline would carry from Pennsylvania across New York's Southern Tier, cutting through eastern Broome County and Delaware County en route to Schoharie County, west of Albany.

"The project sponsors are evaluating the next steps for advancing the project," Williams said in a statement Tuesday.
The pipeline has generated controversy in New York, a state that has banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. It is set to carry gas from the fields of Pennsylvania, where fracking is allowed, into the Empire State.

The DEC rejected Williams' water-quality permit application in 2016, saying the project raised concerns for an estimated 250 streams in the state. Williams did not provide a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact of the pipeline's burial, according to the DEC.

But that ruling came well outside a one-year window as required under federal law, the FERC ruling said, and as a result, the state waived its right to issue a permit.

The agency also denied the state's request for temporary stay on the project, essentially opening the door for construction to begin on the pipeline absent further challenge from the state.

Williams appealed to FERC after striking out in the federal courts, which sided with the state.

The pipeline would bring enough natural gas into the state to supply 3 million homes at a time when New York's energy future is up for debate in the wake of the state's new climate change law, which sets strict carbon-reduction goals.

DEC did not immediately return a request for comment.

The United States is now the top oil and gas producer in the world. Our nation is more energy independent than ever before. At the same time, we continue to improve our air quality. But too many critically important pipelines are still being delayed for years or killed altogether. For President Trump, these delays and blockades are unacceptable.

In April, the president issued an executive order directing his administration to take action to accelerate and promote the construction of pipelines and other important energy infrastructure.

The executive order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to consult with states on reviewing and updating the guidance and regulations ­related to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. This section gives states (and Indian tribes that are treated as states) the authority to review federally ­approved projects and certify that they comply with applicable state or tribal water-quality standards.

Last week, the EPA carried out the president’s directive, issuing a proposed rule that would modernize the agency’s regulations to help ensure that Section 401 is implemented by states appropriately and in accordance with the Clean Water Act’s plain language.

Our proposal would prevent unnecessary delays by requiring states to consider only water-quality impacts in deciding whether to grant, deny or impose conditions on a pipeline project. The new rule would also require states to provide a specific basis for a denial.

Many states already implement Section 401 as the US Congress ­intended. Some states, however, don’t. These states have used Section 401 to delay or reject energy projects at the expense of significant regional and national benefits, including increased energy security, energy reliability and job creation. When states pick at issues other than the impact on water quality, they go beyond the scope of the original law.

Take the Empire State. Gov. Andrew Cuomo used Section 401 to veto an important pipeline, known as Constitution, that would transport natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The governor’s decision means New Yorkers will become even more dependent on less reliable energy sources.

This summer, some 50,000 New Yorkers lost power during a heat wave. Cuomo blamed the city’s utility. But he didn’t mention that the utility had warned him that natural-gas-pipeline constraints increase the risk of supply disruptions.

These disruptions, including the veto of the Constitution pipeline, which would have supplied fuel to generate electricity, among other uses, impact the reliability of electricity in New York by reducing energy resources to supply the grid.

In its warning later in April, Con Ed noted that denial of the National Grid pipeline would hinder its ability to deliver natural gas to customers in the Big Apple, and that the company may have to put a moratorium on adding new customers.

Cuomo’s blockade isn’t just harming New Yorkers. His unilateral action is threatening the energy independence for all of New England, which would have benefited from the pipeline.

Plus, as The Wall Street Journal noted in a recent editorial, New Yorkers have some of the highest electricity prices in the country. Now, thanks to Gov. Cuomo’s policies that are restricting low-cost energy supply, New Yorkers will be forced to depend on less reliable, more expensive sources of energy, forcing them to pay even more and get even less.

And without sufficient access to reliable domestic energy sources, regions may be forced to rely on foreign energy sources. In January 2018, a tanker carrying liquefied natural gas from Russia arrived in Boston Harbor during a cold snap. Think about that: Russian natural gas traveling by boat around the world to heat American homes!

Our nation has abundant energy resources available, and American energy resources are extracted, refined and transported in an environmentally conscious manner.

We should be bolstering American energy independence and American jobs — not making ourselves vulnerable by lining the pockets of foreign energy suppliers.

The Clean Water Act wasn’t designed to allow states to drag out decisions for years or use their Section 401 authority to veto projects of national significance when the projects wouldn’t impact water quality. By reining in states, the updated regulations in our proposal will streamline the approval for and construction of energy infrastructure projects that are good for American families, workers and the American economy.

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