The day Westchester County developers and elected officials have been dreading is here: the Con Edison natural gas moratorium takes effect on Friday, 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.
Officials requested an extension on the moratorium as they attempt to utilize alternate solutions, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, but that extension was denied.
“We said in January that the March 15 deadline was far too soon and now we see just how quick it was,” he said “This is serious and threatens important development projects in Westchester County, towns, cities and villages, including affordable housing, mixed-use housing, retail and commercial developments, transit-oriented developments, business expansions and more.”
In an effort to alleviate some of the concern mounting in Westchester, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Department of Public Service (DPS) and New York Power Authority (NYPA) today announced a Westchester Clean Energy Action Plan.
The plan includes the advancement of a $250 million Westchester Clean Energy Investment Program which will provide immediate relief to Westchester County businesses and residents affected by Con Edison’s announcement that it will put new applications for firm natural gas service on a waiting list beginning March 15.
According to NYSERDA, the investment program will provide local investment in clean energy alternatives such as electric heat pumps, high-efficiency appliances, equipment and building materials that will lower energy costs for consumers and reduce demand in order to accommodate new customers.
“We’ve been working to get environmentally responsible economic development in the county. Business development goals and environmental goals can be the same goal,” Latimer noted. “We need to protect the residents of Westchester County and the developments that are so important to us.”
“These investments and activities, targeted directly to the Westchester area and in zones where investments can have the greatest impact in reducing demand constraints, are estimated to reduce energy consumption equivalent to the amount of gas needed to heat over 90,000 homes,” NYSERDA noted.
Latimer said that many county buildings are already equipped with interruptible gas systems to help reduce peak demand on cold days, and they are exploring how the county can reduce energy usage and meet energy demands through clean alternatives.
The county is also planning on installing solar panels on nine county buildings, including the Westchester County Airport, Westchester County Courthouse, the bus depot in Yonkers and a parking garage in Valhalla.
“We have an obligation as the county government to respond to this and continue to fight. We’re still working with the municipalities impacted by this moratorium, we are keeping them informed and helping them get the resources they need to manage the projects that are at risk.”
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