DPU approves Montague request for pipeline info

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/8/2016 11:29:25 PM

By RICHIE DAVIS

A state Department of Public Utilities hearing officer has approved Montague’s request to compel Berkshire Gas Co. to provide information the company had refused in a case regarding its proposed long-term contract with Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.

The order last week by Hearing Officer Laurie Weissman came in response to a Feb. 23 filing by the town, which is intervening in the case before the DPU to allow a 20-year “precedent agreement” to buy 14,650 dekatherms per day of gas from TGP’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. The pipeline, now being weighed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, would cross Montague and seven other Franklin County towns along its route from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut.

Montague, which like the Berkshire County town of Lenox is intervening in the case, had faced objections from Berkshire Gas in its request for detailed information from Berkshire about the company’s natural gas pricing at Wright, its liquefied natural gas supply, propane supply received in Greenfield, its moratorium on adding new customers and its peak-day demand.

Berkshire had argued to the DPU on Feb. 26 that the requests “are not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and … the review of such irrelevant materials will interfere with the orderly and efficient consideration of the Company’s petition,” according to the summary by Richard Kanoff, the Boston attorney representing Montague.

The town described those arguments as “spurious and designed to deny the town a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present evidence and argument” about Berkshire’s decision to enter into a contract for the proposed pipeline’s gas.

Kanoff argued that DPU’s “entire analysis relates to the company’s judgment regarding the least-cost resource choice,” so the questions are relevant to why Berkshire made the choices it has made, and whether and how its current moratorium on new or expanded service affects the case.

“The town maintains that any elementary evaluation of reasonable alternatives and portfolio objectives routinely includes an assessment of supply options and choices,” the town’s contended, and that the company’s assumptions implicate the cost and impact on ratepayers, while “other supply options are fundamentally relevant to the subject matter and are reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”

In her order, Weissman ruled that the information sought by the town is relevant to the case, and she ordered that it be provided with in 10 days.

“On balance, I find that the information sought by the Town is relevant to the ultimate determination of whether the company’s proposed resource compares favorably to the range of reasonably available alternative options,” Weissman wrote. “… The Town is seeking information on issues that could be viewed as reasonably available alternatives, and it is not appropriate for the company to object on the basis that the subject matters of these requests are not alternatives to the resource under review.”

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




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy