Two energy corporations are hoping to go through with a proposal that would bring more natural gas to both the Rockaways and New York City.
The Williams Companies and National Grid are proposing to extend the Transco natural gas pipeline so that it would run deep beneath the ocean near Jacob Riis Park in Far Rockaway. The project would cost about $200 million and it would need to be approved by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) before construction begins.
Chris Stockton, a spokesman from Williams, which is an energy company based in Oklahoma, said that the three-mile pipeline extension is needed to meet the increasing demands of natural gas in New York City.
“Prices for natural gas have never been lower,” Stockton said.
The plan also includes creating a meter station at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. National Grid is responsible for building an additional 1.5 mile pipeline that would connect the new pipeline to the meter station. The current pipeline runs parallel to the Rockaways.
In addition to the increasing demand for natural gas, Karen Young, a spokeswoman from National Grid, said that the pipeline is needed to connect its Queens and Brooklyn customers to the same line so that people in both areas could get more natural gas.
Young added that National Grid’s system would not be able to take on additional customers in the future that want natural gas if they don’t expand it now.
Although the new pipeline would bring more natural gas to the Rockaways, one environmentalist is worried about the potential damage it could cause to the water life.
Dan Mundy Jr, who is vice president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and a Broad Channel resident, said he is worried about the environmental footprint that building the pipes would leave — specifically he is concerned that sediment and sand from the construction could be carried by the ocean currents, eventually damaging the artificial coral reef that exists in Jamaica Bay.
He added that there are many different types of fish that live in that reef, including Black Fish, Sea Bass and Stripe Bass, and people often fish in the reef.
“On any given day, you can see boats out there,” Mundy said.
He added that if the reef is damaged, it would damage the Rockaways and New York City as a whole, because people fish in the reef for recreational and commercial purposes.
Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, said that the board supports the pipeline extension, particularly because it will give natural gas access to the people that live in Broad Channel.
According to Gaska, the residents over there can’t get natural gas because how the pipeline currently runs does not allow Broad Channel access to that kind of gas. They are forced to get propane, oil or electric gas, all of which are more expensive, he said.
Mundy said that he’s not against the project as a whole, but he wants to make sure there isn’t any damage to the environment.
“We’re trying to be open-minded, but we’ll be watching that water,” Mundy said.
Stockton said that they have met with Mundy and his group several times and they are taking their concerns into consideration while they draft a new proposal to send to FERC. Williams also held public meetings with Rockaway residents to discuss the plan, including one that happened in April.
He added that one of the first things Williams did when they developed the project was surveying the deep ocean floor to see how they can build the pipe without causing environmental damage.
According to Stockton, the project is still being designed and they plan on submitting an application to FERC sometime this fall.
It takes them 6 to 12 months to review the entire application, and if approved, construction would begin in the fall of 2013 and it would be completed by the winter of 2014.
By Luis Gronda