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The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) is pleased to offer support for Con Edison’s recent decision to impose a natural gas infrastructure moratorium in much of its Westchester County service territory in New York. The moratorium, which was announced in a Jan. 17 letter to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), stipulates that the company will implement the moratorium beginning on March 15, 2019.
Con Edison’s announcement is in response to gas supply restraints in Westchester County and has been met with some degree of public criticism. In various recent news articles, public officials and community leaders have decried the company’s move, saying that it will impede development and force customers to use fuel oil to meet their heating needs. These comments fail to recognize the potential for meeting customer needs with geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). Significant GHP deployment throughout the Westchester service territory is already being planned by Con Edison, although increased awareness and adoption is needed to meet the needs of all customers. GHPs are a “beneficial electrification” technology that reduce electric grid impacts, ease gas supply constraints, eliminate onsite emissions, and provide customers significant savings. They are the world’s most energy efficient heating and cooling technology, using the earth as a “thermal battery” to meet the needs of the building. Over 1 million GHP systems have already been deployed nationwide, delivering tremendous benefits to homeowners in all 50 states.
“Con Edison is a forward-thinking utility company that understands the energy landscape is changing,” said GEO Chief Operating Officer Ryan Dougherty. “This natural gas moratorium, though driven by market and infrastructure forces, is among the first major steps in a broader transformation of the nation’s energy network. Fossil fuel use for heating and hot water production will soon be a thing of the past. Electric technologies such as geothermal heat pumps will replace these polluting incumbents, and bring great results for the public, the environment, and even public utilities that embrace these changes.
“We need a frank public dialogue about the future of heating and cooling in New York," Dougherty continued. "The State's emissions reduction and energy efficiency mandates will require many of our fossil fueled heating systems to be converted to non-emitting, efficient alternatives by 2050, long before the end of the gas network's useful life. If we don't plan for this technology transition, existing ratepayers will suffer as gas utilities are forced to raise delivery rates to recover their fixed costs from a shrinking user base. Thus, a gas moratorium might be the first step in a process of 'managed decapitalization' that will reduce the need for future rate increases by avoiding the stranding of these assets. We applaud the efforts of Con Edison, along with the PSC, as they continue to chart New York’s energy future.”
Clean heating and cooling technologies such as geothermal heat pumps provide environmental benefits, energy bill savings, increased comfort levels and health benefits compared to conventional heating and cooling technologies. Residents and businesses can learn more about the advantages of clean heating and cooling technologies by visiting the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’ website.