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East Shore Drive and Cayuga Heights Road intersectionThe new pipeline will extend to this intersection in the Village of Lansing

Natural gas availability and pressure in Lansing has been a hot topic for many years.  A pipeline proposed in 2014 never materialized, a moratorium was placed on new natural gas customers in the Town and Village of Lansing, and a plan to install a compressor to increase pressure to serve the Lansing schools (the end of NYSEG's Lansing natural gas service area) was deemed unnecessary by NYSEG.  A Non-Pipe Alternatives RFP (Request For Proposals) was distributed last year in which NYSEG said it plans to invest $10.7 million in Lansing.

On September 1st Tompkins County Legislator (Lansing Town) Mike Sigler wrote to NYSEG and Avangrid with questions about the Non-Pipe Alternative, and whether it would mean the moratorium would be lifted, an issue he has doggedly pursued since the moratorium began.  On Tuesday NYSEG sent a 'Construction Notification' that a new 5,600 pipeline will be laid from a locaqtion near Boynton Middle School to the top of Esty Hill in the Village of Lansing between September 14th and the end of October to address the pressure issue.  The notice advised the new pipeline would not provide enough capacity to lift the moratorium.

"We are currently planning on installing approximately 5,600 feet of 8” high-density polyethylene pipe. Work will begin close to the intersection of North Cayuga street and East Shore Drive along State Route 34 (East Shore Drive) to intersection of Cayuga Heights Road. This is a system pressure and reliability improvement project for the Town of Lansing in Tompkins County. This project is recommended to modestly improve the system endpoint pressure for the Design Day peak hour modeled condition to improve system reliability. The system improvement is not sufficient enough to lift the moratorium in the Town of Lansing. Therefore, the possible customers along the gas main installation will not be connected to the new gas main."

The issue became especially hot in 2014 when NYSEG proposed a new seven-mile long natural gas pipeline from Freeville, along West Dryden and Farrell Roads to the Warren Road area of Lansing.  Most of that would be in Dryden, and most residents along the rout vociferously protested the proposal, making it clear that it would be impossible to get easements to lay the pipe.  Meanwhile, NYSEG's capacity for providing natural gas to Lansing was stretched to its limit, and depending on who you talk to there either is or isn't enough pressure to provide natural gas for heating the Lansing schools in a winter low-temperature emergency (at various times even NYSEG has said the pressure was not enough, though they now say it is).

"To evaluate the cost effectiveness of the Proposals to this RFP, NYSEG will conduct a Benefit Cost Analysis (”BCA”) for each RFP Proposal. To conduct this BCA, NYSEG will require detailed resource cost information as requested later in this RFP and will utilize the estimated value of the deferral of a Lansing/Freeville Reinforcement Gas Pipeline Project (reliability portion) for a period of at least 10 years as a benefit to the NPA project in the economic analysis. The Net Present Value (NPV) of a 10-year deferral value is estimated to be approximately $10.7 million in 2019 dollars."

Sigler has been an advocate for getting NYSEG to do whatever it has to do to lift the moratorium, reasoning that the purpose of an Electric & Gas company is to deliver electricity and natural gas.  Responding to news about NYSEG's RFP, Sigler sent eight comments and questions to NYSEG and Avangrid officials.  He said he is not opposed to any of NYSEG's proposals, but is concerned they don't meet goals he understood the initiative is to address, including enabling NYSEG's ability to lift the natural gas moratorium on the Lansings.

On Tuesday afternoon Lansing Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne said, "I'm disappointed that it appears the moratorium won't be lifted and Lansing will be at a disadvantage again. It's the fastest growing town in the County, and I find this remarkable."

Sigler questioned the amount of new capacity, which he said is only half of what New York State has said is needed.  He applauded $7 million of ratepayer savings, but questioned whether it is enough to end the moratorium.  Since the moratorium began he advocated for lower electricity rates in Lansing to compensate town residents for the lack of availability of natural gas in an attempt to provide energy equity to the town.

Sigler wrote, "I can’t help but come to the conclusion Lansing resident’s will be treated differently than the rest of Tompkins County.  From one perspective that is a positive as we track a new course in energy use ahead of our neighbors both in the county and without.  However, it doesn’t go unnoticed that it  forces our poor and middle class residents to pay more to heat their homes than the wealthy in Ithaca or Ellis Hollow, where a Natural Gas compressor was expanded in the last two years and where it now looks like the town board will allow “upgrades” to the facility at and investment of over 60 million dollars."

"I just don’t see how it meets any of the metrics you and the PSC laid out other than boosting pressure, at one time a major safety concern for NYSEG;  the new East Shore pipeline has been known about and suggested for years and could have been enacted five years ago or 10 years ago since NYSEG saw this issue coming.  This plan doesn’t get you to 120 MCFH, therefore I don’t see how this will lift the moratorium.   This is a far more expensive solution than the compression stations opposed by some elected officials or by trucking in CNG to an injection station to backfill the system on the week in February when it’s needed," Sigler concluded.

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