The Business Council of Westchester continues to take the lead in working towards solutions to a moratorium on new natural gas customers that will have a negative impact on economic development in Westchester.
John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and COO of The Business Council of Westchester, was one of the featured speakers in Albany on Wednesday at a forum sponsored by New Yorkers for Affordable Energy.
The BCW, Westchester’s only business membership organization focusing on economic development and advocacy, has been leading the charge on the issue since Con Edison announced last month that it will stop taking new natural gas customers in Westchester because of supply chain issues.
“We need to come up with practical solutions that are a balance of renewables as well as looking at expanding the pipeline because we really don’t have a choice,” Ravitz told the gathering, which brought together business and labor leaders from across the state who are concerned about the impact that New York’s natural gas blockade is having on consumers and the economy.
“It can be done in a responsible way, it can be done in a transparent way, it can be done in a way where you know you have the usual suspects that are not going to stand for any of this, but when you start talking about the number of jobs that are going to be lost … you begin to bring people together who are going to be one voice,” he said.
A lack of pipeline capacity, along with increasing demand due to economic growth, led Con Edison to announce the moratorium on customers in southern Westchester County starting March 15.
As part of the coalition event, the Consumer Energy Alliance issued a new report highlighting $30.9 billion in savings that natural gas has generated for New Yorkers and outlining the benefits of natural gas.
At the same time, The Business Council of Westchester this week named 16 community leaders to a task force seeking short and long-term solutions to natural gas shortages.
A cross-section of developers, business leaders of small, mid-sized and large companies, as well as planners and affordable housing advocates were named to the task force announced by the BCW after Con Edison said it would stop providing gas to new customers.
“We have gathered some of the leading experts on this task force to explore ways to address these natural gas shortages that threaten to short-circuit economic development projects,” said Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the BCW. “After decades of struggling, our downtown areas of Yonkers, New Rochelle and other urban areas are seeing unprecedented new growth and renewal. To jeopardize this is simply not an option.”
Last month, the BCW brought together more than 50 leading developers with projects planned for Westchester to a top-level briefing and discussion with representatives of Con Edison.
“While the gas shortage has been years in the making, it has now reached the point of a crisis that threatens our economy,” said Gordon. “While there are no easy solutions, there are potential steps that can be taken to ease the immediate problem that we will be carefully evaluating with the goal of recommending a plan of action steps as quickly as possible.”
Members of the BCW Gas Moratorium Task Force are:
- Kevin Plunkett, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Simone Development Companies;
- Joseph Apicella, Managing Director of Development, MacQuesten Development;
- Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President, RXR;
- Peter Chavin, Managing Partner, Biddle Real Estate Ventures;
- Richard Haggerty, CEO, Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors;
- Albert Annunziata, CEO, Building & Realty Institute of Westchester;
- Christie Houlihan, Houlihan-Parnes Realtors; Senior Director and Counsel;
- Geoff Thompson, Partner, Thompson & Bender;
- Patrick Lynch, President, OLA Consulting Engineers;
- Mark Weingarten, DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr;
- Neil DeLuca, President DeLuca Group;
- Wilson Kimball, Yonkers Commissioner of Planning and Development;
- Luiz Aragon; New Rochelle Commissioner of Development;
- Richard Ellenbogen, President Allied Converters Inc.;
- George Lence, Nicholas & Lence Communications;
- Anthony Justic, Maier Markey & Justic LLP (BCW Chairman)
Read more about Wednesday’s New Yorkers for Affordable Energy forum in Albany: