Legislators take stand against gas moratorium

  • ROSENBERG

  • Representative Stephen Kulik, senate president Stan Rosenberg, and representative John Scibak deliver a statement to representatives from the Department of Public Utilities at the hearing on Berkshire Gas Company's long-range supply plans at the Greenfield Middle School Tuesday, August 30.

Recorder Staff
Published: 4/26/2017 6:16:14 PM

Several area legislators Thursday complained to state regulators that Berkshire Gas Co.’s ongoing moratorium on new hookups is hurting economic development in the region.

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and state Reps. Stephen Kulik and Paul Mark, who represent Franklin County on Beacon Hill, as well as Hampshire County legislators, filed a brief with the Department of Public Utilities on the Berkshire Gas Long-Range Forecast and Supply Plan through 2021.

“We are hopeful that, while the DPU weighs the long range forecast and supply plan for Berkshire Gas, that they identify a way forward for ending the moratorium as soon as possible to reduce the barriers to economic development and building businesses in the Pioneer Valley,” said Rosenberg, D-Amherst.

The brief outlines the legislators’ concerns that the ongoing Berkshire Gas moratorium is hindering economic development and hurting the quality of life of residents in the region. The brief states:

“The on-the-ground reality is that the moratorium is undermining the financial security of our towns and the quality of life of our residents. Due to the moratorium, businesses are not choosing to locate or expand in the Eastern Division.”

The brief says that a continued and open-ended moratorium is unacceptable and asks regulators to quickly identify a way to end the moratorium as soon as possible.

The brief encourages the DPU to consider testimony about possible demand and supply solutions to the moratorium such as expanding energy efficiency programs.

The moratorium has been in place since December 2014, when the company said that its supply and distribution system was near capacity. At the time, it said it needed the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline through Franklin County to solve its supply problem. But that project was withdrawn in the face of determined local opposition, and Berkshire Gas has yet to come up with an alternative.

The moratorium affects Greenfield, Deerfield, Sunderland and several Hampshire County communities, including Amherst and Hadley.




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