Assembly Members from Westchester County Announce New Program to Help Deal with the Con Edison Moratorium Passed in the State Budget

ALBANY, NY – The members of the New York State Assembly representing communities throughout Westchester County were pleased to announce that the recently-passed 2019-2020 state budget contains a new program to help Westchester residents and developers deal with the effects of the Con Edison moratorium on new natural gas services in the region. The budget requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to create a renewable energy and energy efficiency resources program specific to the county to encourage broader adoption of alternative energy strategies, including geothermal.

This additional program builds on the progress of the previously announced Westchester Clean Energy Action Plan, which dedicated $250 million to provide local investment in clean energy alternatives such as electric heat pumps, high-efficiency appliances, equipment and building materials that will lower energy costs for consumers and reduce demand in order to accommodate new customers. That program, which was unveiled in March shortly before the Con Edison moratorium on natural gas took effect, included state grants to Con Edison earmarked for the development of heat pumps and increasing gas efficiency for residential, multifamily and commercial & industrial customer, grants to improve energy efficiency in Westchester and reduce overall and peak energy demand from existing customers in the region to free up capacity, and low-cost NYPA financing services for its Westchester customers to retrofit heating systems with clean energy alternatives.

The PSC and NYSERDA are required to develop this new, additional program within 90 days of the budget’s passage and after the scheduling of a public hearing.

“For the sake of our county’s economic well-being and the residents and communities that rely upon ongoing development projects put at risk by this sudden and potentially long-lasting natural gas moratorium, we need to do everything we can to make the adoption of clean energy alternatives more affordable and more attractive,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale.) “I am confident that the experts at the PSC and NYSERDA will work with local communities on a program that will both support the economic growth of our area and the growth of clean energy.”

“The Con Edison gas moratorium demands immediate action and I am thankful my colleagues in the New York State Assembly recognized this and moved quickly to secure critically important funding,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-White Plains). “The investments in these programs will provide significant assistance to Westchester residents and businesses.”

“I am pleased that we included in the state budget funding to give Westchester consumers more choices for efficient, cleaner energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Assemblyman Steve Otis (D-Rye). “These kinds of incentives for alternative energy sources should be a model for other communities.”

“The Con Edison gas moratorium presents a clear and present danger to economic development in my district and across Westchester County” said Assemblyman Nader Sayegh (D-Yonkers). ”Thanks to my colleagues in the Assembly, NYSERPA and the PSC can responsibly begin to shift our reliance from fossil fuels while protecting the interests of consumers across the region.”

On January 17, Con Edison formally announced to the Public Service Commission and to the general public that it would institute a temporary moratorium in most of its Westchester County service area for new natural gas services, including residential, commercial, or mixed-use buildings currently in development that will increase peak winter demand. The moratorium officially began on March 15 – less than two months after it was announced – and will last for an indeterminate period of time. The only stated exceptions to the moratorium would be for new customers applying for interruptible service, gas service for emergency generators that only activate in the case of an electric outage, or other service patterns that would not be likely to impact gas delivery during peak winter usage.

Westchester County legislators and officials, including those at the state and local level, sent a letter on February 5 asking the Governor and the Public Service Commission to investigate ways to ameliorate the situation. Of particular concern is the number of projects already advancing in cities, towns, and villages throughout the county, from major redevelopment in cities like New Rochelle, Rye, White Plains, and Yonkers, to the smaller residential, commercial, mixed-use, and school construction projects. The legislators are confident that the Westchester Clean Energy Action Plan and the new program established in the state budget will give local developers and communities they need to make it more economically viable for new development and those converting from oil heat to choose smarter, cleaner, and greener options.