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Westchester Lawmakers Face Off With Con Ed Officials Over Natural Gas Moratorium

Con Edison officials met with Westchester lawmakers to discuss the gas moratorium that will take effect on March 15.
Con Edison officials met with Westchester lawmakers to discuss the gas moratorium that will take effect on March 15. Photo Credit: Con Edison

Con Edison officials were back in the hot seat this week, as Westchester lawmakers grilled the utility company about the gas moratorium set to take effect on March 15.

Last month, Con Edison announced that the demand for new gas has surpassed its limits in southern Westchester, prompting them to stop accepting new customers beginning on March 15.

The announcement led to finger-pointing and panic for many Westchester officials and developers with extensive, multi-million dollar projects in the works. There have been public meetings hosted by the Public Service Commission, and on Monday, Con Ed met with Westchester representatives who are urging them to hit the brakes on the moratorium.

“We have made great improvements to the air quality in our service area with customers converting from oil to natural gas for their heating needs,” Con Edison officials said. “The demand for natural gas, however, is outpacing supply on the coldest days due to those conversions, preference for natural gas use in new building construction projects, and constraints on interstate pipelines that bring natural gas to customers in Westchester County.”

Con Ed said that they are developing additional programs through Smart Solutions proposals to the NY Public Service Commission, and are working with NYSERDA, which offers incentive programs for clean energy solutions. Heat pumps, solar thermal and baseboard electric heating are among the alternative solutions that can meet some customers’ heating needs.

'"This will slow down, if not completely stop, the 20 years of economic development we have seen on the Yonkers waterfront,” Yonkers City Council Minority Leader Mike Breen said. “This is going to also negatively affect young homeowners you want to come and build a future in Yonkers. If you don’t already have gas service, Con Edison is telling these young folks to go punt and build in Putnam, Rockland or elsewhere.”

In a 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.”

Officials have asked Con Edison for an extension on the moratorium, though there are fears that the supply may not even make it until March 15.

“We do not need to tell you that the news has sent a chill throughout the development community,” Westchester officials stated. “Given the number of projects already advancing in our cities, towns, and villages, from major redevelopment in cities like New Rochelle, Rye, White Plains, and Yonkers, to the smaller residential, commercial, mixed-use, and school construction projects taking place throughout the county, we are deeply concerned about the potential economic headwinds coming from such a resource crunch.

“Those headwinds, on top of several other factors, could prove painful for our constituents and for the local economy. That could, in turn, have a ripple effect in terms of home prices and property values that further depress local economic development.”

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