Department of Public Utilities to schedule western Mass. hearing on agreement between Berkshire Gas Co., Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.

Last modified: Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — The Department of Public Utilities will hold a public hearing in western Massachusetts on a proposed agreement between Berkshire Gas Co. and the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., state Sen. President Stan Rosenberg said Friday.

The hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, was one of several topics Rosenberg discussed at an editorial board meeting at the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Northampton offices.

“They told me yesterday they would be doing a hearing and it will be in June,” Rosenberg said of the DPU.

The DPU previously had only scheduled a hearing on the topic — at 2 p.m. May 26 in Boston.

Under the agreement, Berkshire Gas would contract for gas beginning Nov. 1, 2018, at three locations along the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline system. Berkshire Gas Co., based in Pittsfield, has imposed a moratorium on new customers, stating that they have reached near capacity with the existing pipeline system in the region.

Rosenberg urged the DPU earlier this week to schedule a public hearing on the matter in western Massachusetts.

“This agreement will have a significant impact on the region, and I think it’s critical that we ensure that the public is engaged in this process” Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, said in a statement released by his office. “We have to make sure that citizens get a chance to voice their ideas and opinions on the issues that will ultimately affect them.”

In a letter sent Monday to DPU Commissioner Angela O’Connor, Rosenberg wrote, “It is important for the department to receive public input as it deliberates whether the proposed agreement is in the public interest. A second public hearing in western Massachusetts will help ensure that the public interest is adequately represented in this case.”

Rosenberg described the question of how to serve the region with power as a complex math problem.

“The puzzle is how many transmission lines, how many pipelines and how will those decisions impact upon the steady supply and price reliability, and how will it impact on our leading status in the country in green and conservation,” he said. “That is the picture we’re dealing with.”

This story will be updated to cover additional topics discussed during the interview.


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