Opponents seek pipeline dismissal 

For the Gazette
Published: 5/3/2016 3:27:47 AM

The pipeline opposition group PipeLine Awareness Network for the Northeast has called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to immediately dismiss and deny the suspended application filed by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. for its Northeast Energy Direct Project.

Coming one week after the company filed notice with federal regulators that its project is on hold because of inadequate commitment from customers, PipeLine Awareness for the Northeast called on the commission “to dismiss and deny immediately, with prejudice,” the application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the 418-mile-long project that was planned to cross Planfield in Hampshire County and eight Franklin County towns and to “to terminate the … proceeding.”

Kathryn Eiseman, president of the opposition group, wrote in her filing that the federal commission “has entertained the NED proposal far longer than warranted … (and) has allowed the Company to abuse the pre-filing process and mislead the public. The Commission improperly accepted an incomplete application …. (and) failed to review the investment in NED by parent companies of four of the would-be (gas distribution) customers, and how such ownership interest in the Project may have caused the LDC subsidiaries to subscribe for more capacity than necessary or reasonable, from a ratepayer perspective.

“The Commission has, time and again, allowed the company to drag out this process without justification,” she added. “After two and a half years of intensive efforts by the company, as well as possible self-dealing by investors in the project, the Company added an inconsequential amount of subscribed capacity to the approximately 0.5 (billion cubic feet a day) in ‘firm commitments’ it had secured by July of 2013. Those commitments are now withering away.”

Eiseman pointed to “untold hours and financial resources” spent by municipalities and landowners “defending their land, communities and environment against this ill-conceived and obviously unnecessary project. As documented in countless filings on this docket, the public has faced deceptive practices and obfuscation from the Company and its agents since the beginning of 2014. The nearly two thousand intervenors in this proceeding deserve closure, if not restitution.”

The company, in its filing, wrote that it is “in the process of determining how best to proceed consistent with existing contracts,” and plans to report to the federal commission by May 26.

In a related decision by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities last week to halt Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s request for survey access to property owners along the pipeline route, the DPU notified property owners it “anticipates that the company will withdraw its petitions” for access.

On the Web: 1.usa.gov/1TguAgT

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