This week, Politico featured a piece by Marie J. French covering the obstacles to building new gas infrastructure and what they mean for regions like New York City and Long Island.
New York state’s utility regulator directed an independent review of National Grid’s plan to close the predicted gap between gas supply and demand after National Grid halted hookups when the state blocked a pipeline to supply the region. French conveyed the reports findings: “The report found Grid’s forecast for gas demand reasonable and highlighted major risks for the company’s plans to meet it. There are major trade-offs around how much risk of emergency curtailments or moratoriums on new hookups regulators and the public are willing to tolerate versus the cost of proposed investments.”
So what does this mean? As long as the demand for natural gas remains steadily increasing as it is now, there will be a crucial need for reliable, affordable resources. While decarbonization is a priority of New York, this is not feasible in the short-term with the infrastructure and demand in play. National Grid’s spokesperson, Karen Young, said in a statement:
“An extreme event that results in turning off gas supply has the potential to create a serious public safety situation in instances of severe cold,” the report states. “Given that gas is predominantly used for heating and cooking, the ramifications of a prolonged outage on human health and safety can be substantially more dangerous than an equivalent electric outage.”
A strong energy infrastructure network is key to a resilient grid and low costs for consumers. The U.S. and individual states should foster a policy and regulatory environment that welcomes investment in infrastructure.