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cuomo3Westchester leaders have asked the Governor to intervene in the energy crisis.Westchester government leaders and school superintendents are making a plea to Governor Cuomo to help find solutions to the moratorium on new gas service that Con Edison suddenly imposed on Westchester to go into affect on March 15. The moratorium affects both residential and commercial properties and would prevent developers of new construction and expansion of existing properties from access to gas service.

The letter says, “We do not need to tell you that the news has sent a chill throughout the development community. Given the number of projects already advancing in our cities, towns, and villages, from major redevelopment in cities like New Rochelle, Rye, White Plains, and Yonkers, to the smaller residential, commercial, mixed-use, and school construction projects taking place throughout the county, we are deeply concerned about the potential economic headwinds coming from such a resource crunch.”

The leaders ask the Governor to expedite Public Service Commission approval of a proposal from Con Edison called “Smart Solutions for Natural Gas” and to create incentives for the use of clean energy sources. They also ask for the Governor to intervene in clearing the way for a new gas pipeline to bring more natural gas to Westchester. The complete letter is shown below.

We spoke to Assemblywoman Amy Paulin about the moratorium and here are her comments:

“Con Edison surprised all of us with a very short window – two months – before they expect to impose the moratorium. They say that even a year ago they did not anticipate this moratorium. The reason they are imposing this moratorium is to ensure that you, their customer, has heat on the coldest day of the year. They have created this moratorium to preserve your supply.”

She explained that the pipelines that convey the gas are privately built and those companies have the right to sell the gas to whatever utility companies they choose.

When we asked why more pipelines had not been built, Paulin said, “Con Ed says they were encouraged to create a smart solution for use of geothermal, heat pumps and other renewables rather than build a pipeline … and the Public Service Commission says Con Edison AmyPaulin2013AAssemblywoman Amy Paulinnever came to them with a pipeline solution.”

She continued, “There is no need to assess blame now. This is going to be our situation and we are going to have to make the best of it.” However if people decide to return to the use of oil and propane because there are not enough incentives for green solutions, they we have a problem.”

Here is a copy of the letter:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo,
As representatives of the New Yorkers who live and work in Westchester County, we are writing to ask for your assistance, your leadership, and your outside-the-box creative thinking in dealing with the newly-announced temporary moratorium for new natural gas services in our area.

As you know, on January 17, Con Edison formally announced to the Public Service Commission and to the general public that it would be instituting a temporary moratorium in most of its Westchester County service area for new natural gas services, including residential, commercial, or mixed-use buildings currently in development that will increase peak winter demand. The moratorium is scheduled to begin on March 15 – less than two months after it was announced – and would last for an indeterminate period of time. The only stated exceptions to the moratorium would be for new customers applying for interruptible service, gas service for emergency generators that only activate in the case of an electric outage, or other service patterns that would not be likely to impact gas delivery during peak winter usage.

We do not need to tell you that the news has sent a chill throughout the development community. Given the number of projects already advancing in our cities, towns, and villages, from major redevelopment in cities like New Rochelle, Rye, White Plains, and Yonkers, to the smaller residential, commercial, mixed-use, and school construction projects taking place throughout the county, we are deeply concerned about the potential economic headwinds coming from such a resource crunch. Those headwinds, on top of several other factors, could prove painful for our constituents and for the local economy. That could in turn have a ripple effect in terms of home prices and property values that further depress local economic development.

We were gratified to see the Public Service Commission take this issue so seriously and schedule public hearings in our region during the week of February 11. However, we believe that more creative and pro- active management is required to provide assurance that our region can effectively weather the major impact that this may have on our overall economy.

Specifically, we would appreciate the executive agencies of the state engaging in the following areas:

1.) Expedited Approval of “Smart Solutions” proposed by Con Edison

All of us support the state’s transition to sustainable, renewable, and green energy sources as critical to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, bending the dangerous trend lines of increased carbon emissions, and racing against the clock to fight the threats posed by climate change. Part of that effort has to include the successful promotion of clean energy alternatives that will have the added benefit of avoiding the negative impact natural gas moratorium on specific projects. We understand that Con Edison has submitted a number of proposals under the name “Smart Solutions for Natural Gas Customers.” These proposals for increasing the use of geothermal heating and air source heating pump solutions are pending review by the Public Service Commission. We urge that those proposals be placed on an expedited schedule so that they may be available to both new development and existing oil customers who are looking to convert to natural gas or some other method as soon as is practical.

2.) Additional Incentives to Make Green Energy Solutions More Attractive
Both the “Smart Solutions” proposals submitted by Con Edison and the programs of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority create incentives to increase usage of clean energy sources. However, we understand that the cost differential between traditional natural gas and these new cleaner sources of energy is still too steep in many cases. We would urge the executive agencies to proactively and creatively establish new incentive programs to decrease this gap and make it more economically viable for new development and those converting from oil heat to choose smarter, cleaner, and greener options, and that Westchester County be given first priority for any pilot projects stemming from these efforts.

3.) Spearhead new, creative solutions to the question of natural gas transmission

Clearly the underlying conditions involve an increased demand for natural gas, and the constraints of the current infrastructure are insufficient to supply that demand. The main conveyance for natural gas is through interstate or intrastate pipelines, but we live in a challenging regulatory and political environment for the construction of new pipelines for fossil fuels. There are often many legitimate objections raised by local communities and environmental advocates. Although a traditional response to the basic economics of supply and demand would focus on the quick approval of a new pipeline, new construction can take four or five years from the beginning of the approval process by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state agencies to the time when gas flows to the region, even when these objections from local communities and environmentalists can be accommodated. This raises the specter that the proposed moratorium could last for years before the underlying conditions improve.

Over the years of your service as Governor, you have time and again shown a unique ability to overcome obstacles to the major, critical infrastructure projects that New York relies upon for its economic wellbeing. Your leadership has helped surmount obstacles including outdated regulatory requirements, a lack of creativity in the engineering of a project, or an overreliance on conventional thinking when it comes to risk and financing.

For the sake of our county’s economic well-being and the residents and communities that rely upon ongoing development projects put at risk by this sudden and potentially long-lasting natural gas moratorium, we ask you to provide that same leadership, ingenuity, and outside-the-box thinking to our current problem. We are prepared to do what we can to work with you in this effort.

Sincerely,

Sandra R. Galef Member of the Assembly
Amy R. Paulin, Member of the Assembly
Steve Otis
 Member of the Assembly
Terry Clements
 Westchester County Legislator
Damon R. Maher
Westchester County Legislator
Josh Cohn
 Mayor, City of Rye
Thomas Roach
 Mayor, City of White Plains
Warren Lucas
 Supervisor, Town of North Salem
Michael Volpe
 Mayor, Village of Pelham
Dan Hochvert
 Mayor, Village of Scarsdale
Roy R. Montesano Ed.D., Superintendent Bronxville Union Free School District
Dr. Cheryl Champ, Superintendent Pelham Union Free School District
Eric Byrne, Ed.D, Superintendent of Schools Rye City School District
Pietro Fasolino, Board of Education President Rye Neck School District
Benjamin Boykin II
 Chairman, Westchester County Board of Legislators
Margaret Cunzio
 Westchester County Legislator
Noam Bramson
 Mayor, City of New Rochelle
Michael Spano
 Mayor, City of Yonkers
Nancy Seligson
 Supervisor, Town of Mamaroneck
Victoria Gearity
 Mayor, Village of Ossining
Gary Zuckerman Supervisor, Town of Rye
Jennifer Rosen, Board President Briarcliff Manor Board of Education
Dr. Walter Moran, Superintendent of Schools Eastchester Union Free School District
Carol Conklin-Spillane, Superintendent Pocantico Hills School District
Dr. Barbara Ferraro, Superintendent of Schools Rye Neck School District

cc: John B. Rhodes, Chair of the Public Service Commission and Chief Executive Officer, Department of Public Service

Alicia Barton, President and Chief Executive Officer, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

ConEdMapClaiming there is insufficient infrastructure for natural gas service for a good swath of Westchester County, Con Edison has announced a moratorium on new residential, commercial and industrial gas service to customers starting March 15, 2019. The moratorium could have far reaching effects on the local economy as it limits the availability of energy resources for new construction.

In addition to new projects, the moratorium also applies to those seeking additional gas service for heat, hot water, stoves and laundry. So anyone seeking to expand their home or commercial property would need to use a secondary energy source to heat and cool the additional square footage.

The announcement comes after years of Con Edison’s push to convert local customers from “dirty fuels” such as oil heat to natural gas.

According to information on the utility’s website, you may still be able to connect to natural gas if you meet the following criteria:

Small business customers in the food/beverage industry may email us to find out if gas is available prior to signing a lease. No new services will be installed, but they may be able to use an existing service for cooking.

Customers in the northernmost sections of Westchester County. These areas are served by a less-constrained gas transmission pipeline.

Customers with planned renovations who already have natural gas. You can reconnect your gas service provided that the renovations do not add a significant amount of gas load.

Claiming there is insufficient infrastructure for natural gas service for a good swath of Westchester County, Con Edison has announced a moratorium on new residential, commercial and industrial gas service to customers starting March 15, 2019. The moratorium could have far reaching effects on the local economy as it limits the availability of energy resources for new construction.

In addition to new projects, the moratorium also applies to those seeking additional gas service for heat, hot water, stoves and laundry. So anyone seeking to expand their home or commercial property would need to use a secondary energy source to heat and cool the additional square footage.

The announcement comes after years of Con Edison’s push to convert local customers from “dirty fuels” such as oil heat to natural gas.

According to information on the utility’s website, you may still be able to connect to natural gas if you meet the following criteria:

-Small business customers in the food/beverage industry may email us to find out if gas is available prior to signing a lease. No new services will be installed, but they may be able to use an existing service for cooking.

-Customers in the northernmost sections of Westchester County. These areas are served by a less-constrained gas transmission pipeline.

-Customers with planned renovations who already have natural gas. You can reconnect your gas service provided that the renovations do not add a significant amount of gas load.

We spoke to Con Edison’s spokesmen Alfonso Quiroz from the media relations office who explained that Con Edison aims to move customers to renewable solutions like geothermal heating by 2040. Why the shortage? Quiroz said there were attempts to build new pipelines to service southern Westchester but no projects were approved.

When asked what alternatives homebuilders would now have Quiroz suggested electric baseboard heat or geothermal. However, electric heat is significantly more expensive than natural gas to run and is dependent on Con Edison’s electric grid whi often fails in Scarsdale. The upfront costs of installing a geothermal heat system are higher than natural gas and require specific ground conditions and land.

Quiroz said the utility would continue to take applications for new or expanded service until March 15.

We asked Scarsdale Deputy Village Manager Rob Cole a few questions and here is what he shared:

Q: Is there really a shortage of natural gas or is Con Edison using the moratorium as a bargaining chip to raise rates or build a pipeline?

A: The regulating authority, the New York State Public Service Commission, would be the best entity to contact concerning the validity of Con Ed’s representation of a capacity constraint in their natural gas delivery infrastructure; we don’t have reliable data at the local level to make an informed statement on the subject at this time.

Q: Does the Village have any leverage to negotiate?

A: The Village of Scarsdale will collaborate with other Westchester communities impacted by the moratorium, working in coordination with County and State officials to address our concerns.

We also asked local home developer Bobby Ben-Simon for his views on the move. He said, “At this point I’m not affected, but it is a very serious issue. Con Edison has become, public enemy # 1. I’m sure many residents still remember the disastrous effect that was created by Con Edison in 2007. NY State should find ways to break up this company. When there is monopoly, the consumer always loses.”

Fearing the effect of the moratorium on billions of dollars of development planned for Westchester County, on Monday February 4, County Executive George Latimer asked the Public Service Commission to delay the implementation of the moratorium to give the county time to adopt an action plan.

On January 31 Con Edison applied to the NYS Public Service Commission for a rate increase on electric and natural gas that would go into effect in 2020. The average monthly bill for a residential gas customer, using on average 100 therms per month, would increase $17.28 to $176.34, according to Con Edison, an increase of 10.9 percent.

LEDLightinNow that the resurfacing of Butler Field and the track is underway, a longtime request to light the field is back on the table. At the Board of Education meeting on Monday, January 14, Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi reported that the resurfacing of Butler Field, D Zones, and the steeplechase, pole vaulting and long jump areas is complete. The track will be re-milled in April and resurfaced and painted in June.

He raised the issue of installing LED lights on the field and said that Maroon and White had already agreed to donate $200,000 to the project and spearhead the fundraising. The total for the lighting is estimated to cost $810,000. Four meetings have been held to examine the proposal. Maroon and White, the Scarsdale Schools Educational Foundation, the administration, the Board of Education, the village and local independent sports organizations all expressed renewed interest in installing permanent LED lighting. He called the lighting a “program enhancement.”

Pappalardi said that these lights are energy efficient and direct light onto the field with very little spillover beyond the field.

For evening games, the school currently uses diesel-powered lights that cause light, noise and air pollution, and the athletic community believes that LED lights would be superior. The cost of the temporary lighting is about $20,000 a year.

He added, “For me, lights were not a priority – but in my first season, other schools refused to come here because they had to leave school early to play during daylight. I was told, 'You guys should get lights.' The assumption is that schools have lights so kids don’t have to get out of school early.”

Pappalardi said that the project would require SEQRA review – or an environmental impact statement – and requested that the school district act as the lead agency.

Ass’t Superintendent Stuart Mattey said that it would cost about $2,500 a month for the lights or $15,000 per year for operation of the lights. He also thought it would be good to budget $20,000 to $25,000 for administrative costs the year that the lights were installed.

Discussing the proposal, Board Member Lee Maude asked, “What about kids practicing at night? How can we assure ourselves that having these lights won’t extend the day for these kids?”

Pappalardi said, “We would have to agree on when the lights would go off – and what will be scheduled.”

Dr. Hagerman added, “I would think participation would reduce stress.”

Chris Morin said, “We already deal with this for swimming, hockey, play practice – where there are no limits.”

Pam Fuerher asked about donor recognition and plaques. Pappalardi said that they would look into this and come up with a proposal, but for now, it seems that the best way would be to have donor recognition plaques on each pole.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Pappalardi asked the district for approval to reach out to the neighbors, neighborhood associations and community groups for more feedback and to visit neighboring districts that have similar lights. Hearing no objections, he was given the go-ahead to move forward.

phone scam blue red 2 2018 3This in from Greenburgh Police Chief Chris McNerney:
Yesterday, a town resident reported receiving a suspicious phone call that appeared to originate from the Greenburgh Police Department. The caller claimed to be a Greenburgh Police Officer and wanted to discuss her credit report. Fortunately, the resident became suspicious and hung up the phone. We have learned that similar scam phone calls have been received by residents of other communities and appear to originate from municipal phone numbers (Police, Tax Collector, Village Manager’s Office…).

This act, known as “spoofing” phone numbers, is being used by scammers to solicit money and/or sensitive personal information from residents to be used for financial gain.

Residents are reminded that the Town of Greenburgh does not solicit money or personal information over the phone for any reason. If such a call is received, we recommend ending the phone call immediately and contacting the Police Department at 914-989-1700.

Attached please find a list of other known phone scams. Tax season is coming and we have seen a consistent scam the last several years where scammers pose as I.R.S. representatives and demand immediate payment for unpaid taxes. As a general rule, you should never agree to pay anything over the phone when solicited.

Here are a list of common phone scams:

There continues to be ongoing telephone/computer scams that have targeted victims from all walks of life throughout the United States. Residents are asked to beware of the following scams:

IRS Scam

The Scammer will pretend to be an IRS representative.

Scammer claims that certified letters were sent to victim’s address but were returned as undeliverable.

Scammer usually tries to scare and pressure the victim by telling them that they owe the IRS a certain amount of money.

The Scammer tells the victim that payment must be made immediately to avoid arrest.

Victims are usually asked to pay via a pre-paid cash card or credit card over the phone.

The phone number that appears on caller ID fraudulently appears to be that of the IRS.

Warrant and Arrest Threats

The Scammer states that a loved one has been arrested or that the victim is being investigated for certain criminal violations.

Scammer will demand immediate payment over the phone with the threat of prolonged incarceration for a loved one or arrest of the victim.

The Scammer often pretends to be from a Police Department, DEA, FBI or a foreign Police Department where family might be vacationing out of the country.

Victims are asked to pay bail or a fine over the phone by using a pre-paid cash card or a credit card.

The phone number that appears on caller ID fraudulently appears to be that of the law enforcement agency.

Computer Tech Support Scam (occasionally associated with Microsoft)

Scammer pretends to be computer technical support.

Scam also can appear with a pop-up message on a computer indicating that the computer is locked with instructions to call phone number to repair.

Scammer usually tells the victim that their computer is sending error messages and has a virus.

The Scammer usually asks for remote access to victim’s computer to try to fix the problem (this gives the Scammer access to all sensitive data that may be stored on the computer.)

The Scammer may also try to convince the victim to buy software that will fix non-existent computer problem(s).

Victims are usually asked to pay via a pre-paid cash card or credit card over the phone.

The phone number that appears on caller ID fraudulently appears to be that of the Computer Tech Company.

Apple Computer Scam:

Automated call claims to be from Apple Support

Automated call advises the victim that their iCloud Account has been hacked and they need to verify the victim’s account details.

Automated call is then redirected to a live Scammer who is supposed to help take care of the issue

Scammer proceeds to request personal information and credentials to log into victim’s Apple accounts.

Some victims have been asked to pay a fee to have antivirus software installed on their computer or IPad.

It is not antivirus software that they're paying for, it is usually malware.

The phone number that appears on caller ID fraudulently appears to be that of Apple Support.

Free Vacation Scam:

Scammer states that victim was entered into a raffle and was selected as the winner.

Scammer claims the prize is a free vacation to a tropical island for your whole family that’s valued at several thousand dollars.

The Scammer describes the accommodations as a luxury five-star hotel.

Scammer states that in order to receive the prize, the victim must pay a standard tax of “just” a few hundred dollars.

Victims are usually asked to pay via a pre-paid cash card or credit card over the phone.

There is no vacation, no prize and the victim is scammed out of the tax amount charged.

The phone number that appears on caller ID fraudulently appears to be that of the travel promotion company.

Residents are reminded that no government agency will ever demand a fine be paid via Western Union or pre-paid debit card.

CNCGraphicThe Procedure Committee begins a new season administering the non-partisan village office election system next month on February 1. The PC is currently inviting all qualified voters to apply to be part of its 88-year non-partisan tradition of representative democracy in Scarsdale. The PC will be comprised of the soon to be retiring class of Citizens Nominating Committee members and eleven appointees by invitation.

This year’s PC members paved the way forward by amending the Non-Partisan Resolution to ensure a more independent process, the 42nd set of amendments since the non-partisan system was formalized in 1930. They are in the process of creating an operations manual that will provide clear guidelines for the primary task of the PC, which is the recruitment and election of CNC members who nominate non-partisan candidates for village office. Members of the PC perform an important civic function with only a modest time commitment that typically fits well with the busy schedules of Scarsdalians.

The work of the PC this past year, other than an introductory organization meeting and conducting the CNC election in November, was conducted through subcommittees by email, conference call and in-person on an ad hoc basis as needed. The next PC’s term ends around the same time that the work of the CNC concludes at the end of January 2020.

Please consider joining the Procedure Committee, one of Scarsdale’s most important civic organizations. Contact PC Chair Madelaine Eppenstein for more information at meppenstein@eppenstein.com or by phone at 914.262.6656.

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