Con Edison Calls Moratorium For New York Gas Connections

Consolidated Edison Inc., or Con Edison, the largest utility provider in the New York City area and one that serves 10 million customers, called a moratorium on new natural gas connections in most of Westchester County effective March 16. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) comments that demand for natural gas in the region has increased in recent years, leading to concerns about reliability of service.

Con Edison claims it cannot guarantee uninterrupted service to new natural gas connections. Between the announcement of the moratorium and its start on March 16, the company received 1600 applications for firm natural gas service in the moratorium area. Customers on firm service contracts have delivery priority above those on interruptible contracts.

Despite a significant increase in natural gas production in the Northeast, regional demand for natural gas—driven by both population growth and fuel switching from heating oil—has grown even faster, causing concern about the ability to provide service to new customers.

During recent winters, natural gas utilities in the Northeast have been using most, if not all, available pipeline capacity to transport natural gas to demand centers, EIA reports.

Con Edison is pursuing strategies to alleviate interstate natural gas pipeline constraints, such as encouraging electricity use for heating and cooking by providing so called “energy efficiency” rebates. It is also creating demand response programs. Over the past two months, the company signed agreements with pipeline companies to add capacity by upgrading compression facilities. Instead of constructing new lines, these projects would provide incremental capacity increases to alleviate constraints.

In April, Con Edison reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline to bring additional capacity into Westchester County. In May, it announced a second agreement with Iroquois Gas Trans- mission System LP to provide incremental natural gas capacity to the Bronx and parts of Manhattan and Queens through the Iroquois pipeline. According to Con Edison, both projects could enter service by November 2023.

EIA notes that natural gas moratoriums are infrequent, but utility companies in Massachusetts recently issued similar moratoriums, even though the state is also close to natural gas production in the Appalachian Basin. Although smaller in scale and located in areas with less commercial demand, three Massachusetts utility companies issued moratoriums on new natural gas hookups this past winter because of supply constraints.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, June 3, 2019)