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Con Ed announces plan to end gas moratorium, but would take four years

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As suddenly as it came, Con Edison’s moratorium on new gas hookups in most of Westchester County had an apparent solution on April 24 when, with virtually no fanfare, the utility let it be known that it had reached agreement with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline to provide additional natural gas capacity.

Con Edison
The utility’s headquarters in Rye. Photo by Ryan Deffenbaugh

Con Ed said that, subject to necessary approvals, the increase in pipeline capacity could go into effect by November 2023.

“Once completed, this reasonable, low-impact solution will provide Con Edison with the natural has capacity needed to lift the current moratorium on new gas hookups in Westchester County,” the company said in a statement.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline provides service to Con Ed’s facilities in Westchester.

It is 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 U.S.

 “This agreement supports continued economic growth in Westchester by supplementing existing natural gas capacity without the construction of a new pipeline,” the utility said.

Con Edison had come under sharp criticism from various government officials not only for the inadequacies of its gas supply system, but for the manner in which it implemented its moratorium on new applications for service. Among the sharpest comments was one from New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson who told a meeting of the Building Owners and Managers Association that when he received an unexpected call from a Con Ed official telling him new gas applications would be cut off, “I thought I was gonna have a heart attack.”

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline plans to upgrade the facilities it uses to compress the gas for transport in its lines. A greater volume of gas going into the pipeline at one end means a greater quantity will be coming out at the other end for users.

Tim Cawley, president of Con Ed, said, “This project offers a reasonable, sensible approach to allow an orderly transition to the renewable energy future we all desire. 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.”

Con Edison said that it had received 1,600 applications for new service in the two months from the time it announced that there would be a moratorium until the March 15 deadline for new applications.

Con Edison’s announcement that it had a solution to the problem did not address why the solution could not have been found before it had to implement the moratorium. The utility did say that it would continue with the $233 million Smart Solution program it has been presenting as an alternative to natural gas.

“The increased gas capacity plan allows more time for technologies to advance, and for customer adoption to increase alternative heating and cooking solutions,” it said.

Con Ed has been urging developers of major buildings and individual homeowners alike to look at geothermal and air-source heat pumps as alternative heating systems as well as installing upgraded insulation and upgrading HVAC control systems to make them more efficient.

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