Upgrade To National Grid Facility Faces Opposition In Public Hearing

Mar 11, 2021
In The News

A slate of politicians, city residents and activists spoke out in unanimous opposition against a proposed plan from National Grid to upgrade its energy center in Greenpoint during a public hearing Wednesday evening.

It was the first of four hearings on National Grid’s application to New York State to add two new vaporizersmachines that turn liquid natural gas into vaporto its existing facility near Newtown Creek.

“We need parks, not more fracked gas,” testified Assemblymember Maritza Davila, who represents parts of East Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.

National Grid’s proposal is yet another battle in what’s been a prolonged war between the gas and electricity company and local activists and politicians across Brooklyn. Since 2019, activists in the borough have been protesting the company’s construction of a natural gas pipeline that runs from Brownsville to Greenpoint .

Prior to Wednesday evening’s hearing, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had issued a “negative declaration” for National Grid’s proposed addition to its Greenpoint facility. This means that the state had found that constructing two new vaporizers would not significantly harm the environment.

“A significant number of customers in Brooklyn and Queens could be at ris k of losing heating when they need it most,” Glenn Goldstein, a representative from National Grid, said during the hearing. He detailed that the company needed to upgrade its Greenpoint plant to address increased demand during the winter

However, a slew of local politicians took issue with the gas and electricity company’s argument, in addition to Assemblymember Davila.

“There is no demonstrated need for this infrastructure,” said Emily Gallagher, state Assemblymember for Greenpoint and Williamsburg. “Despite National Grid’s claims, the demand for natural gas is falling, and will only continue to fall with the transition to renewable energy.”

Other elected officials who testified against National Grid included Congressional Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, State Senators Julia Salazar and Brian Kavanaugh, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, members of the City Council as well as a number of district leaders.

Activists and city residents also echoed politicians’ opposition.

“We know very well we have no need for this,” said Kim Fraczek, director of the environmental nonprofit Sane Energy Project. She argued that the addition of these two vaporizers is part of National Grid’s larger plan to finish construction of a pipeline through northern Brooklyn.

There will be three more public hearings on National Grid’s proposed $54 million addition to its facility on Newtown Creek: March 11 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. as well as the following Thursday, March 18, at 5 p.m.