Kulik, Mark eye Berkshire Gas’ involvement

 

Local pols seek to intervene in pipeline deal

Greenfield Recorder 05/23/2015, Page A01

By RICHIE DAVIS Recorder Staff

Several area state legislators are joining anti-pipeline groups seeking legal status to intervene in Berkshire Gas Co.’s request to become a customer of the planned Tennessee Gas Pipeline project.

Rep. Stephen Kulik has joined with an affiliate of Massachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network in its formal filing for intervenor status in the state Department of Public Utilities’ proceeding on Berkshire Gas’s plans to buy gas from the controversial Northeast Energy Direct project, which would run through Franklin County.

PipeLine Awareness Network filed Friday for formal intervention status in the DPU’s investigation into the proposed Berkshire Gas agreement with Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., whose pipeline would enter Franklin County from Plainfield and include Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Northfield and Warwick along its route.

Reps. Paul Mark, D – Pe r u , Ellen Story, D-Amherst, as well as the Town of Montague and the Greenfield Town Council are also part of the PLAN coalition, along with Rep. Tricia Farley­Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. The intervention will give the legislators access to the legal expertise of PLAN, an affiliate of MassPLAN, in ongoing testimony and legal discovery in the DPU proceeding, on which hearings are scheduled Tuesday in Boston and — because of a request by Sen. Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst —June 11 at 7 p.m. in Greenfield Middle School.

The agreement entitles Berkshire Gas to its existing access to the Tennessee Gas system and a new access point to be known as the West Greenfield Gate Station, according to the DPU posting, an agreement providing up to 36,000 dekatherms per day to Berkshire Gas.

The project is expected to go into service on Nov. 1, 2018. Kulik, who has said he opposes the pipeline that would cut across his district, said MassPLAN “represents a lot of my constituents, and it’s done an enormous amount of research of pipelines, and there’s been a very complementary relationship established between legislators and PLAN.”

The joint intervention, he added, “makes a lot of sense, because we’re representing the same people, we have similar positions on the pipeline and we’re asking the same questions with the DPU: whether the Berkshire Gas agreement is in the best interest of our constituents. My involvement as a legislator helps enhance the application for intervenor status.”

Several organizations and businesses have joined the MassPLAN coalition as well, including Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, The Gill Tavern, Real Pickles and the Solar Store of Greenfield.

MassPLAN President Kathryn Eiseman said, “In the New Hampshire precedent agreement proceeding where we have intervened, our gas pipeline expert (John Rosenkranz) reviewed confidential company information and concluded in his expert testimony that the company (Liberty Utilities) is contracting for far more gas than the New Hampshire gas company needs. Our expert testimony also states: “EnergyNorth (dba Liberty Utilities) does not adequately assess alternatives. … EnergyNorth appears to have understated the costs and overstated the savings under the NED alternative.”

Eiseman said the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission’s staff and the Office of Consumer Advocate reached similar conclusions, “with all three of us recommending against approval of the agreement; the commissioners have not yet ruled.”

Before the DPU, Eiseman said, “We are seeking the opportunity to subject the Massachusetts precedent agreements to the same degree of scrutiny that the New Hampshire agreement has seen. People want answers about the Berkshire Gas and Columbia Gas moratoria, and people want alternatives to the Kinder Morgan pipeline to be thoroughly explored and evaluated with respect to their impacts on ratepayers and communities and the region.”

A copy of the petition and accompanying exhibits are available during regular business hours at the DPU’s offices in Boston and the filing is available online at http://bit. ly/1Gi7XqA under “Dockets/Filings,” then “Dockets by Number.” The docket number is 15-48.

You can reach Richie Davis at rdavis@recorder.comor 413-772-0261, Ext. 269