The 9,400 members of Steamfitters Local 638 care deeply about leaving a livable planet for the next generation. It is with that in mind that we have testified in support of National Grid’s proposed Greenpoint Vaporizer Project.
Our members are educated and trained to understand the complexities and inner workings of the power sector that we all depend upon to provide dependable, safe, and affordable energy to our homes and workplaces. We are fully committed to being at the forefront of the State’s transition to clean energy. We are also committed to ensuring that the transition to clean energy maintains reliability while creating good union jobs.
Our union is committed to a fair and smooth transition to clean energy, with an emphasis on the word ‘transition. A transition requires the coordinated efforts of utilities, government, regulatory agencies, and industry to plan a thoughtful move away from polluting energy sources toward renewables and clean technology, ensuring that existing infrastructure is made cleaner and more efficient along the way.
We believe that this is exactly what the Greenpoint Vaporizer will accomplish. By building a facility that will allow natural gas to be efficiently delivered to customers using existing pipelines, it is the only viable alternative to a new pipeline, which the community and our political leadership has already rejected. The vaporizer’s useful lifecycle will expire within the timeline of the CLCPA’s mandate, and fits within Natural Grid’s plan to fully decarbonize its operations under New York State’s legally mandated timeline.
This project is the most efficient way to deliver natural gas to customers during times of peak demand, which are the coldest days of the winter and when heating is most essential. We are not suggesting this is the clean energy solution to the climate crisis, but it is a critical step along the way to ensuring reliability and assurance to rate payers that they will have heating as we make the necessary steps toward green energy.
Steamfitters work in a variety of “green” jobs, which include energy efficiency retrofits to boilers and chillers, installing heat pumps, developing ‘green’ hydrogen, and building out networks of zero-carbon geothermal energy. Just as importantly, our members continue to work on, and upgrade, existing fossil fuel infrastructure so that, during this interim period to decarbonization, it is as clean and efficient as possible.
Unfortunately, the realities of demand and existing technology do not allow us to simply “flip a switch” to 100 percent clean energy. In the meantime, members of Local 638 will do the work of ensuring that the energy we currently rely on is delivered in the most efficient, clean way possible. A new state-of-the-art vaporizer at Greenpoint is a critical way to achieve that transition.
There are real world consequences to shutting off or banning an essential energy resource, especially when it comes to heating in the cold winter months. As a union that represents many of the experts who maintain our energy infrastructure, we urge the state Public Service Commission to not play politics with people’s lives and approve National Grid’s request for this necessary project.
James R. Sheeran, Jr. is president of the Enterprise Association of Steamfitters Local Union 638, representing 9.400 members working in the construction and maintenance of New York’s critical energy infrastructure. The union is also a member of the Clean Energy Jobs Coalition – NY, a vast and growing group of labor organizations and businesses dedicated to promoting sensible energy policies as the state combats climate change.