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Gas moratorium sees light at the end of the pipeline

Con Edison may be able to lift the Westchester gas moratorium by November 2023.

The energy company announced on April 24 that they reached an agreement with Tennessee Gas Pipeline to provide increased natural gas capacity for Westchester County. The pipeline will upgrade its compression facilities which allow the existing gas pipelines to deliver more natural gas to its customers.

According to ConEd, the capacity increase could be placed into service by November 2023, depending on the approvals process.

“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.”

ConEd first announced that they would no longer accept natural gas connection applications for new customers in most of Westchester on January 18. Due to the increased demand for natural gas from conversions of oil-based heating systems and developers opting for natural gas heating in new construction, ConEd said there was a supply-and-demand imbalance.

Between the announcement and the start of the moratorium on March 16, the company said they received 1,600 applications for gas service in the affected area.

Even with the good news, those in Westchester will still endure more than four years of no new natural gas connections.

“Con Edison’s announcement 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,” the Business Council of Westchester said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this potential increase to the available supply requires its own set of approvals. 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.”

While the moratorium continues, ConEd is suggesting energy alternatives like switching to electric appliances, geothermal heat pumps and other renewable energy sources. But, the BCW has created a task force of developers, business owners, affordable housing advocates, and planners to offer other solutions.

“We applaud Con Edison for this initiative and other actions the company is exploring to alleviate the crisis,” BCW said. “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.

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