Finally, more than ten weeks after we filed petitions to intervene in Liberty Utilities’ Granite Bridge and resource planning dockets, the NHPUC has granted PLAN-NE full intervenor status. Our legal and gas market experts will now have access to confidential data for analysis with respect to Liberty’s planned expansions and evaluate the legitimacy of the major buildout being proposed, from a overbuild-versus-reliability perspective. The two proceedings are running parallel schedules, with discovery now underway and our expert testimony due in early September.
Last week we attended the first open house for Granite Bridge, held in Epping (the proposed host to a 2 BCF LNG storage facility and liquefaction plant). There were no detailed maps of the route as we have come to expect from attending pipeline open houses; in fact, we were told the maps provided online by Liberty are just placeholders because planning is really only just beginning. There were no artist renderings of the LNG facility being proposed, just factsheets with charts and drawings. In the lead up to the open house, Liberty issued a press release touting the fact that 22 state senators support the project – although internal company documentation(unearthed in the discovery process) indicates that, in Liberty’s view, a number of state and local officials supporting the project didn’t really understand it.
On the Massachusetts gas utility front, in the midst of Columbia Gas’ proposed buildout in its greater Springfield service area, that company has filed for a rate increase. The deadline to intervene in the Columbia rate case at the DPU is June 4th. Public comment hearings will be held mid June, including aJune 19th hearing in Springfield.
Meanwhile, last week, the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned the NHPUC decision relating to Access Northeast’s financing, and held that electric distribution companies may, under New Hampshire law, enter into long-term gas capacity contracts. This decision means that for projects akin to Access Northeast, all eyes are once again on Beacon Hill on the question of whether Massachusetts law will be altered to undo the decision of that state’s highest court, which held that such pipeline financing contracts are not permissible under current Massachusetts law.
The Massachusetts energy committee has just released several small bills, including modest additions to the renewable portfolio standard annual increases and an incremental raising of the cap on solar net metering. We still await a new version of the Senate omnibus energy bill, now in the Senate Ways & Means committee. Constituents can urge that committee to act swiftly, while asking House Ways & Means members to improve on the energy bills by raising the annual RPS increase to 3%, raising the net metering caps by 5% (or eliminating them altogether), and prohibiting unjust demand charges on solar customers.
Last but not least, FERC has extended the comment deadline in its 1999 pipeline certificate policy review proceeding – we now all have until July 25th. In addition to submitting comments, please sign this petition being promoted by a broad coalition of organizations spearheaded by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
Thank you for your support and for all that you do for a clean energy future!