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Catsimatidis Offers Financial Incentives to Convert from Gas to Oil

New York City

Gas to Oil
Oct. 24, 2019

And now for an idea that is the opposite of green. John Catsimatidis, the billionaire grocery, real estate, and energy mogul who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York, has an answer for the moratorium on new natural-gas hookups imposed by National Grid and Con Edison: switch boilers back from natural gas to more polluting fuel oil.

Catsimatidis tells Crain’s that his United Metro Energy Company is equipped to take on an “unlimited” number of oil customers in the metro area. And he’s offering financing to help those with gas-fired boilers to convert to No. 2 oil in time for winter. "If these people are stuck, we'll come up with a program of financing their conversion, so they'll have no cash output," Catsimatidis says. "Give us a five-year contract, then somewhere over the five years, we'll charge whatever it is – a nickel more or something – and pay back the initial investment." 

In recent years, thousands of residential and commercial properties have switched from heating oil systems to natural gas, attracted by the latter's lower costs and public policy aimed at reducing carbon emissions. While the city’s sweeping new Climate Mobilization Act will require building emissions to be cut 40 percent by 2030, No. 2 oil emits 40 percent more carbon than natural gas. 

In May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration, citing potential damage to city waterways, denied a crucial permit to the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, a 23.5 mile proposed conduit that would have channeled natural gas under New York Harbor and into the metro area. National Grid, a partner in the venture, is working to get the state’s decision reversed and has begun turning down new natural-gas hookups – and, for a short time, even refused to reconnect customers who had temporarily turned off their fuel lines. The move infuriated Cuomo. Meanwhile, Con Edison, claiming that existing supply lines are operating at maximum capacity, has imposed a moratorium on new gas hookups in parts of Westchester County.

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