Williams/Transco withdrew all permit applications to NJDEP for the NESE Project on November 26, 2019, the day after National Grid & New York reached an agreement following National Grid’s moratorium on gas service.
Williams/Transco will submit new applications “at a later date.”
Once again, NJDEP did not have/take the opportunity to deny permit applications for the NESE Project before all permit applications were withdrawn by Williams/Transco on 11/26/19.
- For the Flood Hazard Area permit application which was “complete for review”, the DEP’s decision date deadline was 11/28/19.
- For the Coastal Wetlands & Waterfront Development applications along with a request for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification and Coastal Zone Consistency Determination, the decision date was 6/12/20 before Williams/Transco withdrew these applications on 10/25/19 and then reapplied – without anything new in the applications – on 10/28/19. Those 10/28/19 applications were administratively complete but had not yet been declared technically complete (which is needed to be considered “complete for review”) before Williams/Transco withdrew them.
On 11/26/19, Williams/Transco wrote that they withdrew all applications for permits to afford the NJDEP additional time to review the application material and comply with the DEP’s timelines under NJ regulations. The DEP has 90 calendar days (which can be extended by exactly 30 calendar days) to render a decision after an application is declared to be “complete for review”.
- Publically available documents do not reveal that the DEP indicated in any way that they needed extra time for their review or that the DEP asked Williams/Transco to withdraw and resubmit permit applications so that they would have additional review time.
- Given the response letter from the DEP’s Christopher Jones (11/27/19) following the withdrawal of applications, it appears that the permit applications still failed to meet the standards for approval. He wrote that any subsequent new applications would need to address persistent deficiencies in the applications that pertain to (1) confirming that there is a compelling public need for the proposed additional natural gas capacity; (2) steps to show that the alternate access road to the proposed compressor station – that would avoid or minimize environmental impacts – is truly not a practicable alternative; and (3) providing information about monitoring the proposed in-water dredging operations to ensure that all best practices and operational procedures would be implemented and that there are adaptive management procedures that could be implemented in case dredging resulted in exceedance of surface water quality standards.
- Williams/Transco has not indicated what they will do next other than writing that they will submit applications for the permits at a later date. Note: Prior letters withdrawing applications (6-14-18 & 10-25-19) noted that they would submit new applications in the coming days.
- At this time, we do not know the plans of Williams/Transco to obtain permits needed for NESE. Are they waiting to see National Grid’s plan for a long-term solution to meeting demand for gas that is due within 3 months?
National Grid, the planned recipient of the additional natural gas for New York from the NESE Project, has recently entered an agreement with NY that is outlined below. This was in response to investigative actions following National Grid’s moratorium on new or reengaged gas service that was heightened after NYSDEC denied permits for the NESE Project in May 2019.
The real need for more gas in this service area has been in question for a while.
National Grid’s 11-25-19 Agreement with NY
- National Grid promised that it will meet demand for the next 2 years.
- Within 3 months, National Grid will propose long-term solutions to gas supply issues in the region:
- Reduce demand through energy efficiency & demand response programs (ask & expect more customers to shift to “non-firm” service – oil or other alternate fuel – and charge these customers differently , being able to penalize them if they do not switch)
- Truck-in compressed natural gas
- Long-term possibilities to be considered include renewable energy sources, conservation strategies, liquefied & compressed natural gas facilities, new natural gas pipeline, and/or NESE if it is the most viable & sustainable solution.
- Long-term plan needs to be approved by NY State by June 2020 to go into operation by the fall of 2021.
- $36 million penalty will be paid by National Grid to New York.
- $7 million to compensate customers harmed by the moratorium
- $8 million for new gas efficiency measures
- $20 million as investment in clean energy businesses across NY State
- NY’s Public Service Commission will appoint a monitor to oversee National Grid’s operations & review compliance with this agreement over the next 2 years. National Grid will pay for the monitor.
- National Grid will host public hearings. At least one will be in Nassau County & another in Suffolk County.