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BCW Energy Conference Puts Future of Westchester Development and Energy Needs in the Spotlight

As part of its ongoing focus on economic development and advocacy in Westchester County, the Business Council of Westchester hosted an important energy conference on May 10 that attracted top business, government and industry officials, including Con Edison President Tim Cawley, to discuss the impacts of the gas moratorium on new development projects in Westchester.

The event – “Running on Empty: Transition to a New Energy Landscape” – attracted more than 100 attendees to the Crowne Plaza hotel in White Plains.

Con Edison’s Cawley said that the March gas moratorium was a result of the need to balance supply and demand for natural gas.

The utility saw a 30 percent increase in its natural gas business since 2011, however, the demand spike was not offset by new supply – noting the last natural gas pipeline to go into services was in 2013 to service sections of Manhattan. Cawley said developers are at a stage where they are exploring all options – such as geothermal and partial geothermal – to adjust. Cawley also said that the combination of its Smart Solutions program and the existing pipeline expansion projects could allow the natural gas connection moratorium in sections of Westchester County to be lifted by Thanksgiving 2023, according to Real Estate In-Depth.

Meanwhile, Con Edison was flooded with requests for natural gas connections after it announced in January that it would be imposing a moratorium in March. Cawley said that in that eight-week span, Con Edison received what would normally be 15 months-worth of natural gas connection applications from Westchester County customers.

In his opening remarks for the conference, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said he is confident that county government and the business community can work together to find solutions to the natural gas shortage. He noted that in addition to the natural gas moratorium, the county and the region are facing the impending closure of Indian Point in 2021 and 2022. Latimer also noted that while politically many are pushing for greener and cleaner technologies to be employed, such as geothermal and renewables, some of these energy sources have not matured or come at a higher cost, according to Real Estate In-Depth.

John Ravitz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the BCW, said that while all forms of energy must be studied carefully, including renewables, we have to have an honest conversation about what works, what doesn’t, and what impact it will have on our communities.

“Will renewables be able to allow us to have the development we seek that will create the jobs that will bring in the revenue to the municipalities,” said Ravitz.

Ravitz, who also formed the BCW’s Natural Gas Moratorium Task Force, which is comprised of major developers and business leaders in Westchester, said that to solve the energy shortage problem, in addition to renewables, the expansion of natural gas pipelines to the county must also be considered.

To read more about the BCW’s energy conference, please visit Real Estate In-Depth.

Separately, New York regulators this Wednesday rejected the construction of a nearly $1 billion natural gas pipeline, which could bring a gas moratorium to New York City and Long Island. The pipeline was planned to run 37 miles, connecting natural gas fields in Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. Its operator, Williams Companies, based in Oklahoma, said it was a critical addition to the region’s energy infrastructure.

National Grid has made it clear that they would need to impose a moratorium on new gas hookups if pipeline was not approved, noting with Williams Companies that natural gas demand could rise 10 percent in the next decade in NYC and Long Island and the region would be facing an energy shortage.

Thank you to the sponsors of the BCW’s “Running on Empty: Transition to a New Energy Landscape”:

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