While Westchester County remains one of the preeminent hotspots for real estate development in the country, Con Edison may be throwing a wrench in developers’ hands with a gas moratorium.
Con Edison issued an announcement over the weekend 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.”
As a result, to ensure they can “maintain reliable service to existing natural gas customers on the coldest days,” they will no longer be accepting applications for natural gas connections from new customers in most of Westchester beginning on March 15.
They noted that there are some areas in the northernmost sections of the county where they have more capacity and may still be able to accept new customers. Existing customers will not be affected by the moratorium."
According to Politico, the moratorium applies to communities in the county south of Bedford, Mount Kisco and New Castle.
Scarsdale Assemblywoman Amy Paulin expressed surprise at the moratorium, noting that it will “devastate development in Westchester,” as several cities and communities are experiencing development renaissances, such as Yonkers and New Rochelle.
“Developers are already telling us they can’t build more housing or commercial buildings until this is resolved,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said in a statement. “Con Ed and the Public Service Commission need to implement an immediate plan to solve this.”
The Politico report states that “the Cuomo administration has rejected permits for most new gas pipeline projects in recent years, leading to pipeline developers shying away from proposing projects in the state. Environmental advocates are pressuring Cuomo to reject all new gas infrastructure, including a pipeline National Grid says is needed to avoid its own moratoriums on Long Island and in the city.”
"To help prospective customers meet their energy needs in light of these market dynamics, PSC will be monitoring Con Edison’s engagement with customers to explore options to reduce their energy needs or meet their needs through non-natural gas energy sources," Department of Public Service spokesman Jim Denn said in a statement.
In her own statement, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added, “Con Edison's hasty announcement will hurt many communities and residents in the southern part of Westchester County.
“Their actions will impede smart investments in commercial and affordable housing projects aimed at improving our neighborhoods and local economy. Following last year's storms we had hoped that Con Edison would work better to be a partner in improving our community, not a hindrance."
“We are developing additional programs through our Smart Solutions proposals to the NY Public Service Commission, and are working closely with NYSERDA, which offers incentive programs for clean energy solutions,” Con Edison stated. “Heat pumps, solar thermal and baseboard electric heating are among the alternative solutions that can meet some or all of our customers’ heating needs.”
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