Good news for residents and politicians in Westchester County, NY! (Yes, we’re being facetious.) Consolidated Edison, the local electric and gas utility for parts of New York City and its suburbs, says they’ve cut a deal with Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) to get more gas supplies flowing to Westchester County (northern suburb of NYC) and they will potentially lift their moratorium on new natgas customer hookups…four years from now in 2023.
In other words, Westchester is still royally screwed. Big construction projects are not going to wait four years–they’ll go build somewhere else. Welcome to Andrew Cuomo’s New York.
In order to flow more gas to NYC, TGP will need to upgrade an unspecified number of compressor stations along the length of the pipeline, which stretches from the Gulf Coast to the northeast. That’s a years-long process and at the earliest, new supplies would not be available until November 2023, some 4.5 years from now. Given lawsuits and anti-fossil fuel shenanigans, plan on it being longer.
We still can’t believe Westchester and Cuomo will not find a way to get more natgas supplies to the county–soon. Much sooner than 4.5 years from now. The situation is untenable. New construction projects are being flushed down the toilet as you read this because of Con Ed’s natgas moratorium in Westchester.
Under the new agreement, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which has been sending natural gas to Con Edison’s distribution system in Westchester, would increase its capacity by upgrading compression facilities on its system outside of New York state.
The deal is pending approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other state and local agencies. If approved, the additional capacity would come online by November 2023, and the moratorium would be lifted, according to Con Edison.
Following the state regulatory agency’s directions, Con Edison has been pursuing cleaner energy solutions, such as its $223 million “Smart Solutions” initiative.
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline deal, if approved, would bridge the gap between the growing natural gas demand and the existing service capacity, while encouraging customers to pursue alternative technologies, Con Edison said.
“This project offers a reasonable, sensible approach to allow an orderly transition to the renewable energy future we all desire,” said Tim Cawley, president of Con Edison. “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.”
The company’s Jan. 17 announcement of the moratorium shook the area’s business and development communities.
Between Jan. 17 and and March 16, Con Edison received 1,600 applications for uninterruptible gas service from southern Westchester.
In response to outcry, New York state announced a $250 million clean energy investment program for Westchester designed to free up some natural gas capacity and allow development to continue in lower Westchester County.
The Business Council of Westchester has formed a task force, aiming to come up with energy solutions into the future. The council has also scheduled an energy conference for May 10, inviting state and industry officials.
John Ravitz, executive vice president of the council, said the Tennessee Gas Pipeline deal would merely be a temporary solution.
“We need to have honest conversations about what can be implemented in Westchester County that is going to continue to help us have the development projects that are so important to the vitality of the county continue,” Ravitz said. “It has to be a package of both renewables and pipelines.” (1)
A second article:
A new pipeline deal could end Westchester’s natural-gas moratorium, but not for four years.
Consolidated Edison announced an agreement on Wednesday with a pipeline operator to provide additional natural gas to the utility’s Westchester County service area. Con Edison said the arrangement could allow it to lift a moratorium on new gas connections in the county, though not until late 2023.
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 said the upgrades, if approved, could be in place by November 2023, at which point the utility would lift the moratorium on new gas hookups, which has rattled the business community and developers in particular.
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 County Executive George Latimer called on the state in February to force Con Edison to delay the start of the moratorium, to no avail. Westchester cities such as New Rochelle, Yonkers and White Plains have become increasingly attractive to apartment developers—including RXR Realty—looking to capitalize on their proximity to Manhattan. Latimer previously estimated the moratorium could thwart construction of 16,000 new apartment units planned throughout the largely suburban county.
Many of those developers apparently tried to secure gas hookups before the cutoff. Con Edison said it had received 1,600 applications for new natural-gas connections from the time the moratorium was announced to its implementation two months later.
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. (2)
(1) White Plains (NY) Journal News (Apr 24, 2019) – ConEd’s natural gas moratorium may end in 2023 after deal with Tennessee company https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2019/04/24/con-edison-natural-gas-moratorium-may-end-2023/3563638002/
(2) New York (NY) Crain’s New York Business (Apr 24, 2019) – Con Edison deal could end natural-gas crisis—in 2023 https://www.crainsnewyork.com/energy-utilities/con-edison-deal-could-end-natural-gas-crisis-2023
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