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Public Meetings Announced To Discuss Con Edison's Westchester Gas Moratorium

Con Edison crews at the scene of the reported gas leak in Sleepy Hollow.
Con Edison crews at the scene of the reported gas leak in Sleepy Hollow. Photo Credit: Kempter's Fire Wire

The New York Public Service Commission will host public meetings in Westchester next months to discuss Con Edison’s announced gas moratorium that will begin in March.

Con Ed issued an announcement last week stating that the demand for new gas has surpassed its limits in the Southern Westchester area, prompting them to stop accepting new customers in Westchester beginning in March.

“The demand for natural gas in our service area has been experiencing significant growth primarily due to the construction of new buildings, the opening of new businesses, and conversions from oil to cleaner-burning natural gas in existing buildings,” they posted on their website. “But all of this new demand for gas is reaching the limits of the current supplies to our service area.”

In response to a public outcry from local residents, officials and developers, the PSC Chair John Rhodes announced that there will be public hearings in Westchester beginning the week of Feb. 11.

“The PSC is dedicated to ensuring that consumers have access to affordable, clean and reliable energy sources. The recent decision by Con Edison to stop accepting new customers raises a number of concerns that the Commission is committed to taking quick and diligent steps to address,” he stated.

“As a first step, Department of Public Service (DPS) staff will lead a comprehensive analysis and develop a report to review the changing market conditions that gave rise to Con Edison’s decision and to develop recommendations to make certain that utilities across the state are able to meet customer needs in a manner consistent with the State’s energy goals. As part of this analysis, the staff will focus on Westchester County and other areas of the state that may have issues related to natural gas supply and demand.”

Rhodes said that his staff will analyze short-term and long-term market conditions, along with the capacity of natural gas infrastructure and alternatives, and their role in aiding the transition to a clean energy economy.

“The report will consider all options available to utilities to respond to changing market conditions.”

The report and recommendations will be submitted by July 1 to the Public Service Commission and State Energy Planning Board for review and an assessment of policies, programs, and regulations that “can ensure safe, reliable, affordable, and clean sources of energy, while also supporting economic development and the state’s transition to clean energy sources.”

The moratorium didn’t shock everyone, with Marsha Gordon, the President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, calling it “a wake-up call for all who are focused on the economic present and future of Westchester and the entire metropolitan area.”

“While the shortage announcement came as a surprise, it shouldn't have,” she said. “The supply crisis has been in the making for years as virtually any attempt to add major new natural gas capacity to the region has been either rejected or drowned out by calls for finding new alternative energy sources instead.

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