U.S. Gives Williams More Time to Build NESE Gas Pipeline


U.S. energy regulators on Thursday approved Williams Companies Inc's request for two more years until May 2023 to build the proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project to transport natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the roughly $1 billion project, which includes an offshore pipe between New Jersey and Long Island, New York, in May 2019.

That approval required Williams' to put the project in service by May 2021.

But Williams had to put NESE on hold because environmental regulators in New York and New Jersey did not approve water permits for the project.

Williams said it intends to refile water permit applications in both states before the end of 2021 and “remains fully committed to constructing the project.”

That was not the first time state regulators denied permits, called water quality certification, for the project.

After New York regulators denied water certification, the U.S. unit of British energy firm National Grid Plc, which agreed to buy gas from Williams' pipeline, imposed a moratorium on signing new customers in May 2019.

National Grid, which serves about 1.8 million customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, said it would not have enough gas to supply existing and new customers without the pipe.

That prompted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to threaten to revoke National Grid's license to operate its gas utility.

Ultimately, National Grid in November 2019 agreed to end the moratorium and pay $36 million, mostly on conservation and clean energy projects.

If built, NESE would add about 37 miles (60 km) of new pipeline and transport an additional 0.4 billion cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. One billion cubic feet is enough gas for about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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