State officials held hearings last week into Con Ed’s ban on new natural-gas customers in much of Westchester, but it’s the state itself that blocked new gas pipelines. What’d anyone expect?
Now, it turns out, the county’s nightmare may begin sooner than thought: When Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who represents southern Westchester, asked Con Ed if it could delay the ban (set for March 15), the utility was frank: Supply and demand determine whether there’s enough gas, it said. So shortages could occur even beforethen.
Paulin isn’t the only one worried: “A March 15 deadline is just far too soon,” warned County Executive George Latimer. And the ban could choke an economic comeback in Westchester. “A moratorium of no new hookups would create a very chilling effect” on the “revival” in New Rochelle, Yonkers and White Plains.
Yet Con Ed has been warning for a long time now. In 2017, it tried to get the Public Service Commission to let it offer incentives to pipeline developers, who feared being denied permits — but was turned down.
The PSC denies that Con Ed came to it with any “pipeline solution,” Paulin said, but public documents show that’s not so.
Let’s face it: Even if the state forced Con Ed to sign up new customers, the utility still couldn’t deliver gas it doesn’t have.
Yet this disaster is entirely self-inflicted. To suck up to climate-change radicals, who hope to do away with all fossil-fuel-based energy, Gov. Cuomo has been slow to OK new pipelines. In response, pipeline companies have lost interest in New York.
Absent new gas supplies, businesses and residents will shun the county. No one will freeze, but Westchester faces new economic drag.
And New York City’s not far behind.
One hope: a court ruling last month that states can’t use their water-quality certification process to delay federal licensing of hydropower plants. “The scope of the ruling enhances the odds” that the Constitution pipeline will be built, notes Rob Rains of Washington Analysis. Constitution’s sponsors want the court to rule against New York efforts to block the pipeline.
Alas, anti-pipeline foes are gaining steam in New York. Last year, city Comptroller Scott Stringer bucked labor unions to denounce the plan for the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline, a source of natural gas that’s vital to the city’s growth. At least seven public-advocate wannabes have now joined him.
Maybe they want to send city folks fleeing, much as a dead economy has Upstaters doing. Then again, if everyone leaves, there’ll be no need for natural gas . .