Bob Dickerman: Berkshire Gas has another way to meet peak demand

Last modified: Wednesday, September 23, 2015

To the editor:

Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley has been reported as saying there would be no emissions at pipeline compressor stations, other than an occasional release of methane. This is untrue for several reasons.

First, compressor station turbines, such as those planned for Northfield, would burn about 1,000 tons of gas every day. This is enough to heat about 20,000 homes or more in the dead of winter. Consequently, the turbines would produce large quantities of exhaust fumes — about 2,000 tons per day, every day.

Second, raw gas that would be vented and leaked contains many volatile organic compounds in addition to methane. Furthermore, methane mixed with sunlit air turns into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Perhaps Wheatley’s agents could mention these things when they “openly and transparently engage residents” in Wheatley’s anonymous telephone surveys.

Berkshire Gas, meantime, has been posting notices in area newspapers stating that the only solution to peak gas demand problems is the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and that no new residential gas installations will be made unless and until that pipeline is operating (three years from now, at best).

Prospective new customers, builders and installers who want new gas installations now should call Berkshire and ask why it is not building out its liquid natural gasification (LNG) facility at 365 Long Plain Road in Whately.

This facility won approval in 1999 to address peak demand. Using Google Maps satellite imagery, one can see two long, white 70,000 gallon LNG tanks there, with a large empty space nearby for three more tanks. The three extra tanks were to be added when peak demand increased — but they were never added. They could be installed in less than six months, and 5,000 or more new homes could be heated with gas.

I hope that Attorney General Maura Healy will find that Berkshire’s unwarranted moratorium and Wheatley’s statements meet the legal definitions of coercion and fraud.

Bob Dickerman



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