Kingston Planning Board
Kingston City Hall
Monday, July 10th
A public hearing on Central Hudson gas regulating station at 245 Washington Avenue in Kingston, New York.
By Rebecca Martin
Recently, a citizen of the City of Kingston who lives near a new proposed Gas Regulating System to be located at 245 Washington Avenue by Central Hudson contacted us with some concerns. Gas and Electric Magnetic Field (EMF) Substations are a part of our landscape in Kingston, given the need for gas and electric in our daily lives.
But process is key, and it was the process that peeked my interest.
According to Suzanne Cahill, the City of Kingston’s Planning Coordinator, the site plan became available 1 1/2 weeks ago. How was any concerned citizen to know that the site plan was available for review, and then the heavier lift, how might they be expected to speak to process?
The short answer is that they really couldn’t.
The role of city planning and zoning is to provide the public with “the legal basis for all land use regulation to police power of the city to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of its residents” (Berman v. Parker, 1954). I’ve been doing this a long time, and over the years, I have lost confidence in the Kingston Planning Department. That’s why I hired a consultant to take a closer look at this.
GUIDANCE FOR TESTIMONY: Proposed Central Hudson Gas Regulating Substation in Kingston, NY. (Details available in the consultant report available at the end of this post).
Here’s what we recommend that you bring to the Planning Board’s attention on Monday.
The Ulster County Planning Board (UCPB) has not been notified of this action.
- The public should request that a postponement of the review and decision based on the requirement to refer to the UCPB, (at least 10 days) of the public hearing as required by New York State planning and zoning laws.
- The project must be “referred” to the Ulster County Planning Board for review because it is considered to have potential “countywide impact” being in a state right-of-way. This involves a more detailed look and time for the public to understand the proposal.
Relevant considerations that the Kingston Planning Board is required to consider include:
- Compatibility of various land uses with one another.
- Protection of community character as regards to predominant land uses, population density and relation between residential and non-residential areas
- Community appearance
- Such other matters as may relate to the public convenience, to governmental efficiency and to the achieving and maintaining of a satisfactory community environment.
Recommendations: Maintaining Safety at Regulator Stations
The Central Hudson audit reveals that significant monitoring does exist. This background reveals that the existence of monitoring by New York State. Citizens should require that:
- The need for ongoing monitoring to reduce such risks.
- Residents and others concerned with the safety of gas regulating stations should request that Central Hudson Gas & Electric (CHGE) provide detailed maintenance programs and written assurance of frequent monitoring as outlined in this example (above), including “monthly calibration” in conformance with current CHGE Gas Operating and Maintenance Procedures (in this example, Number 220, Calibration, Servicing, and Inspection of Gas Test, Detection and Monitoring Equipment). In the case of Service Regulator, Vent, and Valve, this example suggest a “combined inspection shall be performed on the following occasions: A) Each time a new service regulator and/or meter is installed and activated; B) Any time a meter is changed; C) Any time a service that has been inactive for a period of two or more years is reactivated; and D) At least once every 20 years on the regulator in a multiple meter set. There are numerous examples of the proper maintenance and inspection in the documents linked in Appendix B. These are just a few examples to cite.
- Gas utility operators should inform and advise affected communities, schools, businesses / commercial facilities, and residents about the potential hazards presented by gas infrastructure. Gas distribution system operators should establish an emergency preparedness and response plan and communicate this plan to the public as necessary.
What are Gas Regulation Stations?
Natural gas moves through a community’s distribution system in pipelines of varying diameters and at varying pressures. Gas regulating stations protect the pipeline system and ensure it operates safely by reducing the pressure as the gas flows further into the system, similar to the way an electric transformer steps down voltage to a level suitable for residential use.
Generally speaking, the closer natural gas gets to a customer, the smaller the pipe diameter is, and the lower the pressure. Every regulator station contains safety devices to ensure that the pipe downstream (closer to homes and end users) cannot be over pressured. These safety devices can include additional regulators, relief valves and remote monitoring equipment, all of which require ongoing maintenance by Central Hudson.
Gas regulating stations supply pressure gas downstream to mains that ultimately deliver gas to each user. As the gas moves through the service line, it passes through a regulator at the meter to reduce pressure so that when a gas furnace or stove is turned on, the gas safely ignites in its familiar clean, blue flame.
Regulator stations are a necessary part of the pipeline system that brings gas safely to the end users for household equipment such as stoves, appliances and heating units. Utilities are required by federal regulation to inspect and test these stations throughout the year to verify they are:
In good mechanical condition; Adequate in capacity and reliability of operation; Set to function at the correct pressure; and
Properly installed and protected from vehicular traffic, dirt, liquids, icing and other conditions that might prevent proper operation.
VIEW: GUIDANCE FOR TESTIMONY: Proposed Central Hudson Gas Regulating Substation in Kingston, NY. Written by Hone Strategic, LLC