New York's Answer to Westchester Gas Ban Is Energy Efficiency

(Bloomberg) -- New York State’s response to Consolidated Edison Inc.’s moratorium on natural gas hookups in one of the state’s wealthiest areas is throwing money at clean energy and high-efficiency appliances.

State regulators will direct $250 million to programs to reduce gas demand in Westchester County, state officials said in a statement Thursday. The goal is to avoid supply crunches and shorten the moratorium scheduled to go into effect Friday for new service to homes and businesses.

Westchester County officials had pushed for the moratorium to be delayed. The area, immediately north of New York City, has almost 1 million residents with a median household income of $90,000. County officials say ConEd lacked authority to issue the sweeping ban and warned it could impact construction of 16,000 homes and 2 million square feet (190,000 square meters) of retail and commercial space.

“This fight is far from over,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer said in the statement.

Demand for gas is surging in New York as fracking has made the fuel relativity cheap and as local governments encourage homes and businesses to phase out dirtier-burning heating oil.

“It became clear to us that we would not be able to continue to hook up new firm gas customers in the moratorium area without placing reliability at risk,’ ConEd spokesman Alan Drury said in an email Wednesday.

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