As Con Edison’s plan for a natural gas moratorium has Westchester County in a panic, state regulators approved a series of initiatives from the utility aimed at curbing natural gas demand.
The New York Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a $223 million portfolio of “non-pipeline” efforts to meet natural gas demand in Con Edison territories. The utility will use a targeted gas efficiency program for low-income customers and government buildings that provide critical community service, as well as invest in geothermal heat pumps for customers in Westchester and air source heat pumps for multifamily buildings in the Bronx.
“The PSC is providing Con Edison with the ability to deploy nontraditional solutions to address the customer needs currently met with natural gas and expects ConEdison to use these tools to help its customers and protect environment,” PSC Chair John B. Rhodes said. “Con Edison needs to move quickly and put forward innovative solutions designed to meet current and future energy demands throughout its serve territory.”
Con Edison proposed the efficiency measures in October, but the state’s approval comes weeks after the utility called for a moratorium on new natural gas hookups for most of its Westchester territory, starting March 15. The increasing popularity of natural gas, paired with new development in the county, has strained the ability for Con Edison to meet demand in Westchester, the company says.
The moratorium has alarmed elected officials and real estate developers, who fear it could slow a development boom in the county. State officials will host a public comment hearing on the moratorium Feb. 13 in White Plains. Westchester County Executive George Latimer has asked for more time to prepare before the start of the moratorium. The state Department of Public Service has been tasked with compiling a report on how the state’s utilities can meet consumer demand while staying within a state mandate to shift to renewable energy sources. Comments from the hearings will be included in the report, which is due by July 1.
The hearing will be in the auditorium of the White Plains Library. The first “information forum” will start at 2 p.m., followed by a public comment period. There is a second information forum and public hearing scheduled to start at 6 p.m.