WPCNR THE POWER STORY. From County Legislator Benjamin Boykin and Con Edison WITH REACTION from Business Council of Westchester. April 24, 2019
Con Edison said today that it has reached agreement with the owners of an existing natural gas pipeline that serves Con Edison’s facilities in Westchester County for additional natural gas capacity.
Once completed, this reasonable, low-impact solution will provide Con Edison with the natural gas capacity needed to lift the current moratorium on new gas hookups in Westchester County.
The Business Council of Westchester issued this statement, decrying the fact that the moratorium on new gas connections still remains in effect:
“Con Edison’s announcement Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with a gas pipeline company that currently provides natural gas to lower Westchester County to increase the capacity of the line offered a ray of hope for our increasingly energy-starved region.
Unfortunately, this potential increase to the available supply requires its own set of approvals. Con Edison characterized it this way: “The incremental capacity could be placed in service by November 2023.” That’s four and a half years, if the approval goes smoothly, and at least four and a half years more of the moratorium on new gas hookups in most of Westchester.
“We applaud Con Edison for this initiative and other actions the company is exploring to alleviate the crisis. However, the underlying energy shortage remains a serious issue that is already taking a toll and will continue to loom over the region and threaten our economic viability.
“That’s why the BCW back in March formed the BCW Gas Moratorium Task Force, a cross-section of developers, business leaders of small, mid-sized and large companies, as well as planners and affordable housing advocates to propose solutions. New York State and others are calling for a shift to renewable energy sources.
“While this is a laudable goal, the realities are that implementation of virtually any of the technologies now being discussed are not going to be sufficient to meet the region’s energy demand.
“The BCW will be holding an energy conference on May 10 with some of the top leaders in the energy field. In the meanwhile, the BCW Gas Moratorium Task Force will continue to work on assessing the overall situation, working cooperatively with all involved parties to understand and determine the best paths forward.”
The Con Edison news release continues:
“Under the agreement, Tennessee Gas Pipeline would provide the increased natural gas capacity to Con Edison’s distribution system in Westchester by upgrading compression facilities on its system outside of New York State.
These upgrades will enhance the capability of the existing pipelines to transport incremental natural gas supplies for Con Edison. Subject to the necessary approvals, the incremental capacity could be placed in service by November 2023. (Editor’s Note: 4 years from now).
This agreement supports continued economic growth in Westchester by supplementing existing natural gas capacity without the construction of a new pipeline. When combined with Con Edison’s continued efforts to advance renewables and alternative technologies, this approach will provide customers with clean, affordable heating and cooking solutions.
“This project offers a reasonable, sensible approach to allow an orderly transition to the renewable energy future we all desire,” said Tim Cawley, president of Con Edison.
“The solution provides the time needed to improve non-pipeline technology and make it widely available. The additional natural gas capacity will continue to support economic growth in our region, while reducing reliance on heating oil and the need for locally delivered compressed and liquid natural gas.”
Con Edison is continuing to implement the company’s $223 million Smart Solutions program for customers who are interested in alternatives to natural gas, including incentives to electrify heating systems, upgrade HVAC controls, install geothermal heat pumps or weatherize their homes. The increased gas capacity plan allows more time for technologies to advance, and for customer adoption to increase for alternative heating and cooking solutions.
Between the company’s announcement of the moratorium and its start on March 16, Con Edison received 1,600 applications for firm gas service in the moratorium area. Demand for natural gas in New York City and Westchester County has grown significantly in recent years. This has been due to conversions of heating systems from oil, as well as economic growth, with developers preferring natural gas in new buildings.