By RICHIE DAVIS
Monday, June 22, 2015
By a single action, the state Department of Public Utilities has formally rejected three petitions related to Berkshire Gas Co.’s proposed long-term contract for gas from Tennessee Gas Co.’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline.
With three days of evidentiary hearings scheduled to begin Wednesday in Boston on the case, the DPU formally rejected appeals by Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast and Rep. Stephen Kulik as well as of a coalition of environmental groups — New England Energy Systems — in their bids for formal intervenor status.
NEES, representing Franklin Land Trust and a consortium of other land trusts and environmental organizations, already has called on the state Supreme Judicial Court to halt the proceedings and preemptively challenged the DPU’s rejection.
PLAN and Kulik, leading a coalition that also includes Rep. Paul Mark and other legislators as well as the Greenfield Town Council and the towns of Montague, Conway and Ashfield, on Wednesday called on DPU to expedite a decision on its appeal and also slow the process to allow time to prepare for the week’s hearings. It also filed motions to compel Berkshire Gas, Columbia Gas and National Grid (Boston Gas) to provide un-redacted copies of all testimony, pleadings, responses and correspondence in the pipeline-related cases.
In its order Friday, the DPU also rejected the attorney general’s call for a halt in the proceedings pending decisions on four related cases before the panel,including the proposed energy efficiency investment plan for the state’s utilities, and adoption of an approach to complying with a state legislation to curtail climate change.
In its decision, DPU said it found no evidence that the hearing officer had “abused her discretion,” and agreed that there was no compelling reason to allow anything beyond limited intervenor status, without a right to issue legal depositions to seek documents, testimony and other undisclosed evidence from Berkshire Gas.