Friday, November 28, 2014

New York City Winter Natural Gas Prices Expected to Remain High

Boston Too 

graph of winter natural gas spot and forward prices at Henry Hub, New York City, and Boston, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Bloomberg
Note: November through March are considered winter months. Forward prices for 2014-15 and 2015-16 are as of 10/29/2014.

Despite expectations of a milder winter for 2014, marketers anticipate high prices for natural gas in Boston and New York City. Natural gas prices are expected to be lower than last winter, but higher than the average of previous winters, particularly in Boston.
Boston. Average forward prices in Boston this winter are expected to be $13.70 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu), which is $2.33/MMBtu lower than the winter of 2013-14 but much higher than previous winters. Higher natural gas prices are partly because the pipeline industry has not added any new capacity to flow more Marcellus gas into Boston and because production from eastern Canada and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Everett (Boston) and Canaport (New Brunswick) terminals are not high enough to serve New England peak demand.
New York City. Forward prices for New York City for the winters of 2014-15 and 2015-16 are significantly lower than the spot prices for the unusually cold winter of 2013-14. The forward prices are still slightly higher than the spot prices for the 2012-13 winter, even though several pipeline expansion projects within the past two years have added new capacity to flow more natural gas from the Marcellus region into New York City.
Since the beginning of 2014, the pipeline industry has added 2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of capacity in the Northeast and plans to add another 0.4 Bcf/d by the end of 2014. Significantly more pipeline projects were completed between 2012 and 2014 than in previous years, reflecting the need to expand the natural gas infrastructure in the Northeast to serve growing natural gas production in this region, particularly in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
graph of natural gas pipeline projects in the Northeast, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Pipeline Projects

Major pipeline projects in 2014 include the following:
  • Texas Eastern Transmission's TEAM 2014 expansion was partially completed as of October 29. This project expands the Texas Eastern system with looping and new compressor stations, which enables the system to transport an additional 0.6 Bcf/d of natural gas from western Pennsylvania and West Virginia to market areas in New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
  • The West Side Expansion Project (Smithfield III) was completed on October 27, 2014. This project enables Columbia Gas Transmission to flow 0.44 Bcf/d of gas from the Waynesburg, Pennsylvania and Smithfield, West Virginia areas to Leach, Kentucky, where the gas will be transported to the Gulf Coast on the Columbia Gulf Transmission pipeline.
  • The Seneca lateral reversal project was completed on June 18, 2014. This project enables the Rockies Express Pipeline to flow 0.25 Bcf/d of gas west to points in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. (DOE-EIA)

Monday, August 25, 2014

DEC To Modify Permits for Danskammer

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has tentatively determined to renew and modify several permits for the Danskammer power plant, which a new owner plans to reopen.  They include air, acid rain and pollution-discharge-elimination permits. The DEC says applications for those permits and one to withdraw water from the Hudson River are complete.

Among the modifications is one requested by the facility owner, to remove the coal firing process. Danskammer’s four units burn natural gas, and two can also burn oil.
The water withdrawal permit would allow the facility to continue taking up to 455 million gallons per day.
Comments on the application and draft permits must be submitted in writing to Christopher M. Hogan, NYSDEC Division of Environmental Permits, 825 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, or by email to, by Sept. 19. (Record Online 8/21/2014)

Friday, May 23, 2014

NYISO: "New York Power Grid Prepared for Summer"

NYISO Says Sufficient Resources Available to Meet Expected Demand Statewide

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) reported today that electricity supplies in New York state are expected to be adequate to meet forecasted demand this summer.

Summer Demand Forecast

The NYISO forecasts that New York’s 2014 summer peak demand will reach 33,666 megawatts (MW). The forecasted peak is below the record peak demand set last summer, when a heat wave produced power consumption of 33,956 MW on July 19, 2013.

Peak demand is a measurement of the average total electric demand by consumers for a one-hour period. One megawatt of electricity can serve approximately 800 to 1,000 homes.

Summer heat is responsible for electric power system peaks in New York as air conditioners that increase overall power usage are called upon to counteract rising temperatures. While the electricity system must be prepared to address peak load conditions, average demand is typically far less.

The peak forecast is based on normal summer weather conditions, with temperatures in New York City about 95 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). If extreme summer weather produces heat waves of 100°F in New York City and elsewhere, peak demand across the state could increase to approximately 36,000 MW.

Resource Availability

The total capacity of power resources available to New York in summer 2014 is expected to be 41,298 MW. The total includes 37,978 MW of generating capacity from New York power plants, 1,189 MW in demand response resources (programs under which consumers reduce usage) and 2,130 MW of import capability that could be used to supply energy from neighboring regions to New York.

A surplus of capacity is available for the state as a whole, but transmission constraints narrow the margins of supply for downstate regions.

While power resources remain sufficient to address forecasted demand, the margin of surplus capacity has narrowed in recent years. The resources available this summer are approximately 150 MW below last year’s total and more than 2,200 MW below the 2012 total. Since the start of summer 2012, power plants with more than 2,000 MW of generating capacity have retired or suspended operations.

Reliability Requirements

The ability of New York’s power system to meet the needs of all electricity customers at all times is established by rigorous reliability requirements. The standard for resource adequacy sets requirements for reserves over and above the amount needed to meet forecasted peak demand. In 2014, the standard requires that 39,389 MW be available to serve New York, a reserve margin of 17 percent above the summer peak demand forecast.

Demand Response and Energy Efficiency

In addition to power plant generating capacity and the capability of importing power, peak demands conditions can be addressed by demand response resources. These programs enlist large users of electricity and aggregations of smaller power customers to reduce their electricity consumption when called upon by the NYISO.  (NYISO Press Release)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

EPA to Lift Suspension and Debarment of BP

Agreement contains strong provisions to continue safety and ethics improvements in order to comply

The Environmental Protection Agency and BP today executed an agreement resolving all suspension and debarment actions against BP that barred the company from doing business with the federal government following the company’s guilty plea in the Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 2010. The administrative agreement will be in place for five years.

“This is a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we’ve outlined together,” said EPA Assistant Administrator of Administration and Resources Craig Hooks. “Many months of discussions and assessments have led up to this point, and I’m confident we’ve secured strong provisions to protect the integrity of federal procurement programs.”

Under the agreement, BP is required to retain an independent auditor approved by EPA who will conduct an annual review and report on BP’s compliance with the agreement. There are also specific provisions addressing ethics compliance, corporate governance, and process safety. The agreement additionally provides EPA the authority to take appropriate corrective action in the event the agreement is breached. EPA coordinated this matter with the Department of Interior, Defense Logistics Agency and U.S. Coast Guard.

Since November 2012, EPA has suspended 25 BP entities and disqualified
BP Exploration and Production, Inc. from performing federal contract work at its corporate facility in Houston, Texas, stemming from its criminal conviction in the U.S. Government’s Deepwater Horizon case. Suspensions are issued where there is an immediate need to protect the public interest supported by adequate evidence. The suspension did not affect existing agreements BP had with the government.  The agreement announced today takes effect immediately. (EPA)

East Harlem Natural Gas Explosion

Two Manhattan apartment buildings exploded on Wednesday in East Harlem and the death toll currently stands at seven people with many others missing.  A gas leak-triggered the explosion that reduced the area to a pile of smashed bricks, splinters and mangled metal.  The explosion injured more than 60 people, with searchers still trying to locate others.   The site is at Park Avenue and 116th Street and the blast erupted at about 9:30 a.m., around 15 minutes after a neighboring resident reported smelling gas. The Con Edison utility said it immediately sent workers to check out the report, but they didn't arrive until it was too late.

A tenant in one of the destroyed buildings said residents had complained to the landlord about smelling gas as recently as Tuesday.  A few weeks ago city fire officials were called about the odor, which was so bad that a tenant on the top floor broke open the door to the roof for ventilation.
The fire department said a check of its records found no instances in the past month in which tenants of the two buildings reported gas odors or leaks.

Con Ed said there was only one gas odor complaint on record with the utility from either address, and it was last May, at the building next door to Borrero's. It was a small leak in customer piping and was fixed.
Con Ed said it remains to be seen whether the leak was in a company main or in customer-installed inside plumbing. The gas main that serves the area was made of plastic and cast iron, and the iron dated to 1887.
Age is not in and of itself an issue with cast iron. Con Edison has a cast iron replacement program and the pipe was not slated to be removed in the next three-year period.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) team is investigating. The agency investigates pipeline accidents in addition to transportation disasters.  The NTSB team investigators will be looking at how Con Edison handles reports of gas odors and issues with the pipe and will be constructing a timeline of events.  (AP, NECN, 3/12/2014)

Monday, March 3, 2014

New York City Environmental Justice Hearing


By Dan Durett

AAEA President Norris McDonald and I testified at the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection on Friday, February 28, 2014.  The title of the hearing was: "Oversight - Air quality impacts and ways to measure and address them in NYC environmental justice communities."  The committee has a new chairman, Donovan Richards, and apparently a refreshing new interest in examining environmental justice issues in New York City.

Donovan Richards, Norris McDonald

AAEA - NY is promoting a New York City Environemental Justice Act that would provide protection for environmental justice communities.  AAEA derived the legislation from a draft of the National Environmental Justice Act [at the link behind the NY EJ Act].

It was an incredible four hour hearing.  Stakeholders from throughout the city testified to the need for protection from disproportionate pollution.  Leading environmental justice activists presented the chair and committee with testimonial after testimonial about the vulnerability and lack of protection from pollution. 

The first panel included the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Carter Strickland and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Assistant Commissioner Thomas Matte. 

Dan Durett at the NY City Council Environmental Justice Hearing

Norris McDonald's testimony focused on asthma and my testimony focused on pollution sites.

Hearing video [AAEA appearance begins at 2:20.50]             

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

AAEA "Times Herald' Article Says Keep Danskammer Closed

"Coal Plant Should Not Reopen"

Times Union [FULL OP ED]


Why is the New York state contemplating giving new life to what was one of the worst coal polluting plants in the country?

With coal power responsible for thousands of deaths annually and a host of major pollution problems, including high-levels of carbon pollution and other toxic emissions that lead to smog, soot, and asthma, New York must move beyond this energy source.

Fortunately, a diverse group of organizations are working to prevent this

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New York City Councilman Donovan Richards

New Chairman of the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection

Donovan Richards
Donovan Richards is a Democratic New York City Council member from the borough of Queens representing New York City’s 31st District.  During June 2011, Donovan Richards became the chief of staff for New York City Councilmand James Sanders. After Sanders was elected to the New York State Senate, Richards was elected to the New York City Council during a 2013 special election.

Incumbent Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) — who won a special election in February for the southeast Queens seat vacated by his mentor, state Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica) — won his first term in City Hall with 92 percent of Tuesday’s vote. Richards had the second-largest number of votes among the borough's council races with 17,226. (Wiki, Facebook)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Notice: New York City Council To Hold Air Quality EJ Hearing

The New York City Council

Committee on Environmental Protection

Councilmember donovan richards, Chairman

REPORT of the Infrasturcture Division

Robert Newman, legislative director

TO:                              Invited Guests

FROM:                        Samara Swanston, Counsel to the

                                    Environmental Protection Committee

Re:      Air quality Impacts and ways to measure and address them in NYC environmental justice communities

Date: 2/28/14

Time: 1:p.m.

Location: 250 Broadway, 16th FL Committee Room

We would very much appreciate an opportunity to hear your ideas and perspectives on the above Oversight Hearing topic.

Please testify in person and it will be real time live streamed on Time Warner Channel 74 or submit comments in writing.

Con Edison Urges 7,000 Harlem Residents to Cut Back Their Energy Use

 A dangerous mix of melted snow and salt, now a ubiquitous presence on city streets, is eating through upper Manhattan’s subterranean web of electrical cables, Con Edison officials said this week.
Salty winter roads are frying Harlem’s underground electrical system and necessitating an uptown crackdown on energy consumption.

A dangerous mix of melted snow and salt, now a ubiquitous presence on city streets, is eating through upper Manhattan’s subterranean web of electrical cables.

Con Edison warned residents who live in a pocket stretching from W. 131th St. to W. 153rd St., between Riverside Dr. and Broadway, to stop using “non-essential” appliances until further notice.

The utility issued the call for conservation as Mother Nature continued to freeze up the five boroughs with what seems to be a never-ending series of storms.

Officials urged residents to refrain from using dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and non-essential lights.

About 7,000 residents are impacted by the request, which Con Ed stressed is voluntary but has no end-date in sight.  (Daily New, 2/6/2014)