Barely a month after a moratorium was placed on new hookups for natural gas in southern Westchester County because of an insufficient supply, relief is in sight. But it won't arrive until 2023, Crain's reports.
Con Edison announced an agreement on Wednesday with a pipeline operator to provide additional natural gas to the utility's Westchester County service area. The plan calls for upgrading compression facilities along the nearly 12,000-mile Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which carries natural gas from Louisiana and Texas to the northeastern U.S. Under the agreement, pipeline operator Kinder Morgan would send more gas to lower Westchester.
Con Edison announced plans for the moratorium in January and put it into effect March 16. The company said a boom in new construction in the county, coupled with a growth in conversions from oil heat, pushed demand for natural gas beyond what it could guarantee to the area in the future. Without a moratorium on new gas hookups, Con Edison said, it risks running out of gas on the coldest days of winter.
Municipal officials and builders in the county immediately raised alarms, warning that the moratorium would slow growth. Westchester cities such as New Rochelle, Yonkers and White Plains have become increasingly attractive to apartment developers looking to capitalize on their proximity to Manhattan. According to some estimates, the moratorium could thwart construction of 16,000 new apartment units planned throughout the largely suburban county.
The moratorium has been used as a cautionary tale by supporters of the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, a proposal that includes an 18-mile undersea pipeline expansion connecting existing natural-gas supply infrastructure in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. National Grid, which supplies natural gas to customers in the area, has warned there could be a similar moratorium in the city and Long Island without increased supply from the pipeline expansion. Environmental groups contend that the utilities are exaggerating the situation to build support for more pipeline approvals. And given the New York City Council's recent passage of the Climate Mobilization Act – an ambitious plan to sharply cut carbon emissions from buildings – there's sure to be fierce opposition to building a pipeline that will deliver more fossil fuels to metropolitan New York.
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