A bipartisan group of more than 90 lawmakers from across the state is seeking to save utility ratepayers from paying for natural gas pipelines, according to a recent article on MassLIve.com.
The state representatives sent a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo asking him to omit any public support for natural gas pipeline expansion from an upcoming omnibus energy bill, according to MassLIve.com. “We ask you to ensure energy legislation does not commit ratepayers to bearing the cost and risk associated with financing new gas infrastructure. Substantial new pipeline infrastructure is inconsistent with our shared goals,” they wrote. They are seeking to protect ratepayers from bearing the costs of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. project that is expected to cost between $5 billion and 8 billion.
“The state’s Department of Public Utilities ruled in October that electric utilities may forge long-term contracts for capacity on yet-to-be-built pipelines, sell that capacity to power generators on the spot market, and pass the costs on to their retail customers,” the article states. “The DPU ruling was in response to a request last May from the Department of Energy Resources for an investigation into an ‘innovative mechanism’ whereby electrical utilities could provide stable financing for pipeline developers.”
Lawmakers called the arrangement “unprecedented” and said it would put ratepayers at risk. They said Massachusetts is already heavily reliant upon natural gas for its power generation, and that a “diversified energy portfolio guards ratepayers against price spikes or fluctuation,” the article states.
Speaking to reporters at the Statehouse, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said the state should stick with its current construct. “We build infrastructure all the time for energy,” he said. “I don’t see why we should make an exception for how we handle pipelines as opposed to any other infrastructure required to support our energy needs.”
The controversial DPU ruling has been appealed by the Conservation Law Foundation and by Engie, formerly known as GDF Suez, a firm that provides liquefied natural gas to the power sector, MassLIve.com reported.
The U.S. Department of Energy in February approved pipeline exports of domestic natural gas to Canada for re-export through liquefied natural gas shipping ports.
To read the MassLive.com article, click here.
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