Massachusetts lawmakers press for law banning 'pipeline tax'
- According to local news sources, Massachusetts elected officials are largely in support of a law that would prohibit so-called "pipeline taxes" — electric utilities charging customers to build natural gas infrastructure.
- The state's Supreme Judicial Court last summer ruled that electric ratepayers could not be forced to pay for gas projects, and that doing so would subject them to financial risks.
- The Berkshire Eagle reports about two-thirds of the state legislature have signed a letter calling for the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy to pass a law codifying that court finding.
Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a pair of bills that would strengthen gas project reviews and make it explicitly illegal to charge electric ratepayers to develop gas infrastructure.
Senate Bill 1855 says the DPU "shall not approve any contract for the purchase of gas, gas pipeline capacity or liquefied gas storage where any contract costs could be recoverable from the ratepayers, if such contract requires any construction or expansion of interstate gas infrastructure."
"In paying a surcharge on their utility bills to build the pipeline, ratepayers are taking away the risk of the electric company's business decision to build the pipeline whether it is profitable or not," the lawmaker letter, reportedly signed by 125 legislators, reads. "This shields the electric companies from risk and subsidizes the corporate bottom line."
Senate Bill 1847 would allow a wider range of stakeholders to participate in pipeline cases at the DPU, and would allow groups of 10 or more customers to participate with full intervenor status.
Last year following the court's decision, Eversource Energy and National Grid both pulled their support for Spectra Energy's proposed Northeast Access pipeline. The project aimed to upgrade the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission system and add regional liquefied natural gas storage assets in New England.
As designed, the project would have boosted peak day deliveries, on the coldest winter day, up to 925,000 dekatherms per day of natural gas.
The two pending pipeline bills received a hearing in the Senate on Oct. 26, State House News Service reports, and the letter suggests combining the essential elements of the two bills may help move the legislation.
- The Berkshire Eagle Most Massachusetts lawmakers eager to address gas pipelines, DPU powers
- State House News Service MOST LAWMAKERS EAGER TO ADDRESS GAS PIPELINES, DPU POWERS
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