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Westchester County Facing Moratorium on New Gas Hookups

Westchester County

Gas Moratorium

Political resistance to the construction of new pipelines is one factor in the looming moratorium on new natural gas hookups in southern Westchester County.

March 13, 2019

Con Edison will stop accepting applications for natural gas hookups in its southern Westchester County service area after Friday, March 15. The looming moratorium is the result of soaring demand, as many co-ops, condos, and other buildings have converted from oil- to cleaner gas-fired boilers and developers have overwhelmingly favored natural gas in new construction. That rising demand is coupled with a supply that’s limited by existing pipelines and by political resistance to the construction of new pipelines.

Successful applicants before the moratorium begins in Westchester County will have two years to complete their hookups and begin receiving service. New applications for interruptible service and natural-gas-fueled emergency generators will continue to be accepted.

New York State has so far successfully blocked the proposed 125-mile Constitution pipeline that would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York. And now there is stiff opposition to the proposed 23-mile, $1 billion Williams pipeline that would run underwater in New York’s lower bay, linking existing infrastructure in New Jersey to the Rockaways in Queens.

“These interstate pipeline constraints do not affect our existing customers, but limit our ability to serve new customers on the coldest days, when demand for natural gas is at its peak,” Con Ed says in a statement, adding that the supply-demand imbalance is most acute in Westchester County. New York City and Westchester receive their gas from the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, an approximately 11,750-mile pipeline system that transports natural gas from Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico, and south Texas to the northeast section of the United States.

Proponents of the Williams pipeline argue that it’s needed to allow thousands more New Yorkers to switch from oil to gas for their heating, but environmental groups are marshaling a growing protest movement to pressure Governor Andrew Cuomo, an opponent of in-state fracking, to block the development. Meanwhile, freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez of New York and other progressive Democrats have come forward with plans for a Green New Deal, with the ambitious goal of shifting to renewable energy sources and ending all carbon emissions within 10 years, including emissions from natural gas.

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