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New York launches $250M clean energy plan in response to ConEd gas moratorium

New York regulators on March 14 announced an action plan to help businesses and residents in the Westchester County area affected by Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc.'s planned moratorium on new gas customers in the area.

The $250 million program, dubbed the Westchester Clean Energy Action Plan, is geared toward helping customers get access to clean energy alternatives to getting gas service. The funding would apply to electric heat pumps, highefficiency appliances, equipment and building materials, among other things, that can cut energy costs and curb demand to help accommodate new customers, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Department of Public Service and New York Power Authority

The Department of Public Service will continue to independently review the Consolidated Edison Inc. subsidiary's claim that it cannot connect new gas customers because of pipeline constraints.

"The deadline imposed by the abrupt announcement to place a moratorium on gas hookups throughout most of Westchester is now here," Westchester County Executive George Latimer said in the March 14 announcement. "This is serious and threatens important development projects in Westchester County including affordable housing, mixed use housing, retail and commercial developments, transit-oriented development, business expansions, and more. This fight is far from over."

The Westchester Clean Energy Action Plan includes $165 million in grants from the New York Public Service Commission's so-called smart solutions package for Con Edison, which it will use for heat pumps and developments in gas efficiency. Also included in the plan is $53 million in clean energy incentives for Westchester customers, which consists of $28 million in grants for new customers waitlisted by Con Edison and $25 million in grants to improve energy efficiency in the Westchester. The remaining $32 million will be used for New York Power Authority financing services for customers in Westchester to install clean energy alternatives and retrofit heating systems.

Con Edison in January announced a moratorium on gas hookups in its Westchester service area, saying it will no longer accept applications for new gas connections for buildings in most of the territory beginning in March due to pipeline constraints limiting natural gas supplies. The New York Public Service Commission in February approved Con Edison's plan to spend $223 million to curb natural gas demand, focusing on energy efficiency developments.

The company previously said it would take applications from new customers on a first-come, first-served basis for as long as it can or until March 15, after which the moratorium will be applied to new connections.