June 15, 2023
Source: Inside Climate News
In June 2022, an inspection crew from Con Edison showed up at the front door of Marcos Antonio Ramos’s co-op apartment in Washington Heights. There was something wrong with the boiler system, they said. The crew promptly shut off all gas connections and left the building, leaving residents without hot water or working gas stoves.
A few days later, a certified plumber inspected the 145 gas pipes that run through the 15-unit building. Ninety percent of the pipes failed the pressure test, making it unsafe for residents to turn the gas back on. A year later, the building remains without cooking gas, and Ramos has not been able to use his stove since.
Ramos, a 44-year-old fitness trainer, said that for the first few months, he and his family had to take cold showers because the boiler was out. “It was brutal,” he recalled.
New York City’s decades-old gas pipelines are showing signs of age. One indicator: Over the past decade, complaints to the city’s 311 line, where residents can alert officials to nuisances and hazards in the city, show that the number of New Yorkers reporting gas odors hit an all-time high last year, with 2,175 complaints recorded. Some of these reports result in gas service disconnection, leaving residents without gas service for months and sometimes years, according to the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board. The city, which is aggressively pushing for a clean energy transition, is caught between its effort to move away from fossil fuels and having to deal with its messy and deteriorating gas infrastructure. Those who cannot afford the upgrade are bearing the brunt.