Senate backs pipeline tariff ban

For the Gazette
Published: 7/1/2016 3:58:57 AM

The state Senate Thursday unanimously voted to back an amendment to its energy bill that would bar the Department of Public Utilities from requiring utility ratepayers to foot the bill for building new gas pipelines.

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, filed the amendment. It does not block new pipelines from being built, but ratepayers would not be on the hook to pay for them.

Until April, a massive pipeline project proposed by Texas energy giant Kinder Morgan Inc. was expected to pass through western Massachusetts. The project was met with a groundswell of opposition along its proposed route and was eventually canceled after natural gas markets took a turn for the worse.

Proponents of natural gas expansion have said the region suffers from a lack of infrastructure to transport cheap natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale fields, but opponents say there are other ways to accomplish that and the state should be moving toward renewable energy sources instead.

In April, a bipartisan group of at least 91 House members signed a letter objecting to the inclusion of any provision in the House version of the energy bill that would require electric ratepayers to pay for natural gas pipeline construction, according to State House News Service.

The Senate’s energy bill seeks to limit the state’s dependence on natural gas by requiring utilities to enter into long-term contracts for 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and roughly 1,500 megawatts of clean-energy generation from other renewable sources by the end of 2018.




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