Although many were caught off guard by Con Edison’s announcement of a gas moratorium that will take effect in less than two months, one of Westchester’s top business minds has called the event “a wake-up call.”
Marsha Gordon, the President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, said that the moratorium “is 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.
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.
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.
In response, Gordon said that the BCW “will immediately organize a campaign to bring together the best minds from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to address the natural gas shortage crisis head-on and present viable, practical solutions.”
“All of us share in the desire to shift away from carbon fuels to renewable forms of energy<“ she added. “However, realistically, this is not going to happen overnight. In the meantime, natural gas is the best and least objectionable energy source and a plentiful supply is available.
“The problem is that there is insufficient transmission pipeline capacity to get it to us. This is a self-made problem that can and must be addressed immediately. Con Edison has the ability to deliver gas but it is unable to access additional supplies.”
Gordon said that the BCW will be forming a task force made up of representatives of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The task force will be charged with exploring and making specific recommendations about how to address the gas supply shortage “so that economic growth is not brought to a virtual standstill.”
“While there is plenty of blame to go around for letting the situation reach a crisis, at this point we strongly believe that the focus must immediately turn to evaluating what steps can be taken in the shortest term possible to assure adequate natural gas is made available.
"Anything short of this will quite literally cripple the development and redevelopment efforts that have finally taken hold most notably in the downtowns of our major urban centers, and that is not a viable option.”
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