from PLAN-NE Newsletter
June 15, 2017
We have been watching with some concern as Liberty Utilities attempts to expand its reach across southern New Hampshire. Tonight, the Keene City Council will vote on plans for a temporary compressed natural gas facility in Keene, where compressed natural gas is proposed to be trucked in and then piped throughout the city.
As we told the Keene Sentinel, this vote for new gas infrastructure is an odd juxtaposition with the City Council’s planned vote tonight on a resolution in solidarity with the Paris Climate Agreement. While the situation in Keene is unusual because of its aging propane-air distribution system, Liberty Utilities’ solution – more natural gas infrastructure – is of course the same as its proposal for Hanover and Lebanon to the west. And Liberty is already expanding in the east in Pelham, Windham and Concord.
Unresolved is whether Liberty Utilities has the legal authority to distribute natural gas in Keene at this time. Liberty has filed a request for a declaratory ruling with the NH Public Utilities Commission, claiming that the company does not need new franchise rights to distribute natural gas in Keene because it already has such rights relating to its propane-air system (a claim that is apparently contrary to the PUC staff’s understanding). A hearing on this matter has not yet been scheduled; the filings are available here.
Meanwhile in Massachusetts, the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change has been conducting a listening tour around the state to gauge support for clean energy legislative initiatives. The next stop is Pittsfield on June 19th, then Danvers on June 20th. Full schedule and more information here.
Whether you attend in person or submit a comment, this is an important opportunity to voice your legislative priorities. The Kulik/Eldridge DPU Reform Bill, H.3400/S.1847, would address many of the flaws we have encountered with the way the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities operates, particularly with respect to proposed new gas capacity and public participation in decision-making.
Finally, we have been making steady progress towards meeting our summer matching grant challenge – we’re now about one-third of the way there.
Thank you, as always, for your support!