Montague says gas moratorium is resolvable

By MIRANDA DAVIS Greenfield Recorder Staff
Thursday, March 09, 2017

MONTAGUE MA,TURNERS FALLS — Montague town officials say Berkshire Gas Co.’s moratorium on new and expanded service can be quickly resolved by the company.

The town made this assertion in two testimonies filed in the Department of Public Utilities review of Berkshire’s Five-Year Forecast and Supply Plan.

“The solutions proposed by expert witnesses Kenji Takahashi of Synapse Energy Economics and John Rosenkranz of North Side Energy LLC would also be much less costly to implement than either of Berkshire’s two current proposals to end the moratorium,” town officials said in a press release Thursday.

The self-imposed moratorium is on the gas company expansion into its eastern service area, including Montague, Greenfield, Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately. Berkshire Gas imposed the moratorium because the utility said it had reached pipeline capacity.

Since then, the company’s filing with the state Department of Public Utilities has been narrowed to recommend two ideas: a new liquefied natural gas storage facility somewhere in its Franklin County service area, or an expansion of its distribution main between Greenfield and Tennessee Gas Pipeline interconnection in Southwick.

Montague was accepted as a full intervenor in the proceeding, which allows Montague to provide testimony and to be involved in other aspects of the review. The town can also present alternatives to Berkshire’s moratorium.

Chris Farrell, a spokesperson for Berkshire, said the company has received a copy of the testimony and is currently reviewing it.

Montague’s witnesses in the review approach both the supply and the demand sides of the problem, according to the town.

Takahasi recommends the company decrease its estimate of how much additional gas it needs by more accurately taking into account the energy-efficiency programs it is carrying out. He also recommends renegotiating contracts with “two large customers,” with the idea of having those customers switch to another fuel during peak demand times.

Rosenkranz recommends that Berkshire Gas upgrade a section of its Greenfield Feedline from Hatfield to Greenfield.

He said by replacing some of the 6-inch-diameter pipeline installed in 1959 with larger diameter pipe, or adding a parallel feedline along the same path, it would help serve more customers.

He, too, according to the town’s release, “recommends modifications to delivery arrangements with major customers that he says would alleviate pressure constraints at the northern end of the Greenfield line — a key issue behind the moratorium.”

According to the town, the two solutions its witnesses are proposing would cost substantially less than the current solutions proposed by Berkshire Gas.

Hearings on the moratorium will be on April 4 and 5 at the Department of Public Utilities in Boston.

Additional information from testimony filed by Montague on Wednesday:

• Demand-Side Analysis in Testiomy of Kenji Takahashi of Synapse Energy Economics

• Supply-Side Analysis in Testimony of John Rosenkranz of North Side Energy

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