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National Grid axes plans to build two new gas vaporizers in Greenpoint — for now

National Grid has axed its plans to build two new liquified natural gas vaporizers at the Greenpoint Energy Center — for now.

The energy giant withdrew its application for air pollution permits that would have allowed it to build the new vaporizers at the Maspeth Avenue depot on March 24, according to a letter to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Although National Grid disagrees with the analysis conducted by PA Consulting Group, Inc. regarding the required in-service date for the Vaporizer 13/14 Project at the Greenpoint Energy Center …  and the subsequent Order issued by the Public Service Commission, The Brooklyn Union Gas Company d/b/a National Grid NY is withdrawing the above-referenced permit application at this time,” wrote Cathy Waxman, an environmental manager at National Grid.

national grid headquartersThe company said it disagrees with the PSC’s decision, and will be reapplying to build the vaporizers in the future. File photo by Kirstyn Brendlen

The withdrawal came a week after the state Public Service Commission denied National Grid’s request to recoup the millions of dollars it would have spent on the project by upping customers’ bills.

National Grid “will resubmit the application at some point in the future,” Waxman wrote, though an exact timeline was unclear. National Grid has claimed the vaporizers will be needed by the winter of 2026-27, and will take about 18 months to construct once all necessary permits are granted. 

The company would also need to re-petition the PSC, which the body acknowledged in its decision — saying National Grid is welcome to introduce a new petition if it can prove the project is truly needed in the future. 

“It’s official. Another defeat of a toxic National Grid project [because] of community POWER,” wrote activist group No North Brooklyn Pipeline on Twitter. “And we will not stop fighting their fracked gas until they pack their bags and go back to England.” 

National Grid did not immediately return a request for comment. 

National Grid claimed the new, more efficient vaporizers — which would turn stored liquified gas into a vapor to send it out to customers in New York City and Long Island — are necessary to meet the needs of customers on the coldest days of winter, as the six existing vaporizers are not up to the task, and could ultimately reduce the facility’s greenhouse gas emissions.

That assertion was immediately challenged by local activists, who have long criticized National Grid’s actions in the nabe – and, eventually, by an independent consultant hired to help the PSC make its decision.

In an October 2022 report, PA Consulting Group Inc. criticized National Grid’s peak demand projections and acknowledged the overwhelmingly negative public feedback. The report concluded that the vaporizers would not be needed until at least 2028 — under a 2021 agreement, National Grid must prove an immediate need for new major fossil-fuel projects in order to get them approved by the PSC.

Taking that report under consideration, the PSC voted to deny the application and ordered National Grid to “redouble its efforts on energy efficiency and other demand side management programs to further delay or entirely avoid the need for the Project.” 

national grid vaporizer protestLocal activists said the vaporizers were an unnecessary environmental burden on the people living in the communities around the facility. File photo courtesy of Ken Schles/Sane Energy Project

After that vote, the decision was handed back to the DEC, who would issue the final decision on whether or not they would issue less-restrictive pollution permits that would allow construction to begin — but National Grid pulled their application before the department could make a choice.

Local residents and elected officials have said the company’s assessment of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions was flawed, and failed to take into account the effect the new vaporizers would have in conjunction with National Grid’s other local projects — including the North Brooklyn Pipeline. They said the surrounding nabe— including the Cooper Park Houses right across the street — is already suffering major impacts of climate change and industrial pollution, and urged the company to consider clean, renewable energy sources instead.

“With the safety issues and the health issues that this project contains, our community, this community of color, this low-income community, we consider this project to be a race massacre,” said Karen Leader, Cooper Park Resident Council Secretary, at a September public hearing on the vaporizers. “Cooper Park Resident Council executive board members along with our residents demand that you move towards clean energy and stop looking to invest in fossil fuels.”

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