Pipeline charges prompt lots of questions: Who’s looking out for ratepayers?

by Kathryn R. Eiseman, Commonwealth Magazine
October 20, 2017

ACCUSATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS are underway in response to an academic white paper posted by the Environmental Defense Fund concerning artificially created pipeline capacity constraints and resultant spikes in energy prices. The sides are lining up as usual, with the region’s ratepayer advocates expressing a need for further investigation and better rules to protect consumers, and the Northeast Gas Association seeking to discredit the analysis with an op-ed published in as many New England states as possible. This white paper comes right on the heels of another report published in September with a more pointed title: “Art of the Self-Deal: How Regulatory Failure Lets Gas Pipeline Companies Fabricate Need and Fleece Ratepayers.”
It’s too soon to understand the full ramifications of Eversource and Avangrid’s pipeline capacity scheduling practices, but the findings of the white paper compel many questions that must be answered.

• Were excessive capacity withholding practices a critical factor in moving forward Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion project in the Berkshires and the AIM and Atlantic Bridge projects of Spectra (now Enbridge)?

• Who is looking out for ratepayers, anyway? Apparently not our current regulators in Massachusetts.
• Will the report’s findings impact ISO New England’s regional fuel security study and overall approach to the realities of a grid in transition?

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