Recently a public notice appeared on municipal power giant Consolidated Edison’s webpage. The message they published is, “...new gas connections will be suspended in most of Westchester County service area until further notice.” Consolidated Edition, known as ConEd, is the power company that supplies millions of people and businesses in metropolitan New York with steam, electricity and natural gas.
There are a couple of reasons ConEd is preventing new customers from receiving cheap, clean natural gas: the population and construction in Westchester are rapidly increasing and the pipeline that feeds the region natural gas is too small an old. Furthermore, plans for a new, bigger pipeline transporting gas to Westchester can’t get past the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) green energy regulations.
It appears New York’s economic present and our green energy future has collided in a cart-before-the-horse scenario. Despite what we see around us in Central New York, there are areas of the state that have population and commercial growth. That development requires energy infrastructure to supply electricity and natural gas.
The problem is, some bureaucrats in their aspirations for a carbon neutral impact, refuse to consider any improvements or additions to carbon energy sources. They take this stance even though there are no green renewable options available to meet current demands.
Right now there are millions of dollars in private and taxpayer investments earmarked for commercial, industrial and educational buildings in Westchester that have stalled because their plans to use natural gas as an energy source have vanished. In the case of schools, these projects are voted on by members of the district which cause any changes to the scope of projects difficult. In the case of private development, the loss will be jobs and property tax revenue for local governments.
Ironically, in upstate New York, we have a shrinking population leaving empty houses and buildings which have idle gas pipes tunneled into basements delivering zero natural gas. Additionally, there are communities in upstate New York with hopes for natural gas to encourage development and keep existing industry, but extending a pipeline to them is unthinkable.
In Sidney, there is an odd, but not unexpected conflict between state agencies over the delivery of natural gas to a large, if not the largest employer in Delaware County. New York’s Empire State Development Corporation spent just shy of $1 million building infrastructure to deliver natural gas to this sizable business. At the same time, NYS DEC denied pipeline creek crossing permits to feed gas to the same factory. Closer to home, one of the largest employers in Chenango County in the Village of Greene is in a similar situation being denied access to cheap natural gas, which would lower their manufacturing costs.
It is already difficult to operate any size business in New York because of draconian regulations. Adding to the frustration is the fact we sit on a huge natural gas deposit, the Marcellus Shale Formation, from which gas is being pumped out of the ground just a few miles south in Pennsylvania.
We all know New York refuses to let us drill for gas in our state, but the latest proposed legislation from some politicians would prohibit even the delivery of natural gas from other states into or through New York. It’s not just New Yorkers who will be impacted by such legislation if it becomes law; there are millions of folks in New England who each winter depend on natural gas pipelines - all of which pass through New York State.
Let me remind you, this isn’t all about natural gas, but electricity too. Coal-burning electric power plants are a thing of the past in New York, supposedly replaced by wind turbines. We are learning now the huge propellers aren’t making near enough megawatts. Solar panels are in their infancy and not yet mainstream enough to make a dent in our energy needs. The type of facility that is generating enough electric power is the nuclear power plants around the state. Woefully, Indian Point nuclear power plant just north of New York City is being forced to close by 2021 with no real plan to replace the electricity generated by that 2000 megawatt facility.
Erecting wind turbines, like the ones we see on the horizon in Madison County, is the new battleground. Small towns don’t want these forced down their throats and they are enacting laws prohibiting them. There have been ideas to put the turbines off-shore in the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Ontario which brings out a whole different crowd of green protesters against the whirligigs.
All of this political grandstanding in the race to the left is going to have consequences in the future. We are nearing energy starvation with no viable way to replace the soon-to-be-outlawed sources of power. Metropolitan New Yorkers may someday experience rolling blackouts and ‘cold days’ because of rationing of natural gas and then no one will be happy, particularly voters.
A well-deserved pat on the back to Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields for keeping everyone safe before, during and after Sunday’s Super Bowl. Chief Shields is a former Morris resident and graduate of Unatego High School. Well done, Chief!