Kinder Morgan’s recent decision not to build a $3.3 billion natural gas pipeline across Massachusetts and adjacent states has shed light on two important questions, according to an article in the Eagle Tribune: Who should pay for new natural gas pipelines? And are they even needed?
“We don’t want to see ratepayers hit with the costs of building gas pipelines,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones, one of dozens of lawmakers pushing back against proposals to raise money for new projects by charging tariffs on consumers.
Kinder Morgan cited a changing energy market and scarcity of demand from potential customers for the project’s demise, the article states. Environmentalists and other opponents suggested the company simply wasn’t able to pay for it.
The pipeline issue remains on the table, because another investment group – including Texas-based Spectra Energy, Eversource Energy and National Grid – wants to upgrade and expand parts of an existing gas pipeline through Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. “The $3 billion project, tying into the existing Algonquin and Maritimes and Northeast pipelines through the North Shore, would be built in part with tariffs charged to electricity customers,” the Eagle Tribune wrote. “While the project is subject to approval by federal regulators, the companies have asked the state Department of Public Utilities to allow the tariffs. How much the tariffs might cost electricity consumers hasn’t been determined.”
Many lawmakers are fighting the tariff proposal, arguing that it forces consumers to pay for projects that were traditionally funded by energy companies, the article states. They are calling on House Speaker Robert DeLeo not to recommend tariffs in the new energy bill. “Why should the ratepayer shoulder the risk when private industry is unwilling to?” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to DeLeo.”
Attorney General Maura Healey released a report last year suggesting the demand for more natural gas is overstated.
To read the Eagle Tribune article, click here.