Stop the DPU scheme that would force residents to pay for pipeline construction

7 Apr

(Bob Croce is Chair of the pipeline opposition group Peabody Citizens United, and a candidate for State Representative in the 13th Essex District. Click here to read more about Bob on Facebook. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobCroce4Rep.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

For more than a year, we’ve been educating residents about the potentially devastating quality of life and environmental impacts posed by the multiple natural gas pipelines proposed for the Commonwealth.

pipelineWe’ve all heard how these pipelines would put the safety of residents in jeopardy, violate basic homeowner rights and threaten public drinking water for 350,000 North Shore residents within the Ipswich River Watershed.

But there is one aspect on which we haven’t focused enough:

The Department of Public Utilities, an appointed group of state bureaucrats – most of whom are former utilities industry executives – last year passed Docket 15-37, a scheme that will allow electric companies to pass the cost of this new gas infrastructure on to consumers in the form of a surcharge or “tariff” on our electric bills.

Putting it simply, companies such as Kinder Morgan and Spectra will build these new pipelines, and we will pay for the cost of construction. The argument for the tariff is that these pipeline companies are doing us a favor by helping us meet demand and lower the cost of natural gas and our electric bills. The estimated cost alone of Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, passed onto consumers, could be $8 billion.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen, through a comprehensive study published by Attorney General Maura Healey, how this massive expansion of natural gas pipeline infrastructure was unnecessary from a demand and economic perspective, and could slow our progress toward a clean, renewable energy future.

The Conservation Law Foundation and others are now challenging in court whether the DPU has the authority to enforce such a tariff. But the DPU might also have a powerful ally, who could help the agency achieve a bullet proof defense of this surcharge.

Rep. Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) – who is Speaker Pro Tempore in the MA House — filed legislation (H.2881) this session, which contained language that would essentially make this tariff law.

With Kinder Morgan’s proposed NED pipeline, which directly threatens the 13th Essex District communities of Danvers, Middleton and Peabody, we’ve seen convincing evidence that most – if not all – of the gas transported is destined for export to Canada and then lucrative European Markets. By the way, some experts feel that this export scenario would actually raise the cost of gas in our region, since the price would be set by demand on foreign markets.

While the courts decide whether the DPU has abused its power, and hopefully strike down Docket 15-37, here’s hoping that legislators across the Commonwealth do not incorporate the tariff language in their omnibus energy bill!

Forcing the residents of the Commonwealth to pay for pipelines we don’t need, while companies such as Kinder Morgan make profits on this gas through an export scheme, is obscene and un-American.

16 Responses to “Stop the DPU scheme that would force residents to pay for pipeline construction”

  1. Russ Donovan April 7, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    Great heads up Bob! Astute representation is just we need in our mindless state house. The go along crowd up there really costs us taxpayers in the end.
    Keep up the good work. Good Luck.

  2. Northshore Bob April 8, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    Bob,
    On a separate subject . . . are you aware of the plan by the city and PMLP to locate a solar farm at the bottom of Wahtera road? The folks that directly abut the cul-de-sac at the bottom of Wahtera received a vague letter notifying them of this project several months ago; apparently not all of the neighbors on the street received a letter so there was very little awareness of this project. Furthermore, the letter only mentioned that a project would occur on Warren St. Ext., it did not mention anything about land directly adjacent to Wahtera road being affected so the few neighbors that did get a letter were not alarmed. The plans for the project have been obtained and show the panels encroaching directly on the cul-de-sac. These folks are now up in arms as this street, the views from their homes and their home values will be severely affected. The mayor is now involved along with Tom Gould and Charest and they seem sympathetic but the neighbors are worried sick and are looking for some help with news and coverage. Thanks

    • Anon April 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

      Last heard… The mayor was all for the solar panels. Read it in the S…news.

      • anon. April 10, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

        I would have thought the solar panels would have been placed out of sight in the area where the city brought its trees for disposal on PMLP property. The location was basically surrounded by the high cliff at the top of the Farnham Park . The closest neighbor on Warren Street extension is well before that area and they really can not see that area.

    • Northshore Bob April 11, 2016 at 9:13 am #

      The mayor did a walk through of the Wahtera cul-de-sac late last week with some of the neighbors. The short story is that it seems the mayor will propose eliminating the “north field” of solar panels; the “north field” is the area on the Wahtera Road side of Warren Street Ext. Wahtera will also not be used as a construction staging area as originally proposed. Charest also seems to be on board with this plan. The mayor has scheduled a 3PM meeting today at PMLP, followed by a construction review meeting with Tuesday evening at city hall.

      • Northshore Bob April 11, 2016 at 9:40 am #

        EDIT – should read that the “north field” is the proposed area on the Wahtera Road side of the overhead wires.

  3. Anon April 10, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    What’s Ted’s spin on this?

  4. Anonymous April 11, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    BUT no solar panels on our new school.

  5. Anonymous April 11, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    Why did the ward 4 councilor support the project to begin with if the neighbors were against it? At the hearing Charest said nothing and supported it 100%. Instead of being afraid of a few complaining neighbors why doesn’t he tell them it’s a good project. Stop pandering to everyone Ed and grow a backbone.

  6. Anon April 11, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

    Has anyone recognized all these solar panels will NOT absorb one drop of rain but will increase runoff in the wrong place and flood downtown again? Where will the city put all that additional runoff? Downtown of course. Development is the number 1 cause of flooding and Peabody is all for development. Build in a flood zone and what do you get?

    • Anonymous April 12, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

      Your worried about the rain fall when the panels are installed is phoney at best. The amount of rain that falls is no different if it is on panels or on bare ground. The rain run off goes where it has always gone before – in the ground, into a river or brook, or sewers and out to sea.

      • anon April 26, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

        Clearly, you do not know what you are talking about! Why don’t you hot top your lawn and don’t look at the run off from your roof after all the rain goes where it has always gone before.

        Just saying, you idiot!

    • Anonymous April 13, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

      Flooded?

    • Anon. April 13, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

      Rain comes down and it has always gone to the path of least resistance. The area where the panels will go has always let nature take its course with out complaint. Why start a panic situation when it could be that the panels would be best placed in the quarry area where the city used it for tree and brush disposal that is hidden from sight of homes and Warren Street extension.

  7. Anon April 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

    Congrats. Bob! Looks like the gas pipe took the PIPE!!

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/04/20/kinder-morgan-shelves-billion-new-england-pipeline-project/iEafnAP2P41o0B9tmM0lEI/story.html

    Now we can look forward to higher electric rates.

    • Anonymous April 21, 2016 at 5:50 am #

      I’m not Bob so dont blame him for this message to you. I would think about the risks and the outcome of the gas pipe line rupturing or exploding before you rant about the cost of electricity going up. You have heard of SOLAR POWER haven’t you? There is no contamination or pollution with SOLAR POWER. Better to be able stay alive and be able to have food and good water to consume than worry about the cost of electricity going up.

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