As Massachusetts looks to fossil fuel future, gas companies quietly invest billions in pipelines – Boston Globe

Now, a detailed analysis of the cost and effectiveness of the program, which will be released on Monday, is raising questions among some experts about whether the program should be upgraded or canceled, allowing money to flow to other climate-related needs.

“The world has changed; Does this program really make sense, as climate change, our move to a low-carbon economy, and the Commonwealth’s aggressive climate obligations? ”Dori Sevey, an economist who conducted the study on behalf of scientists, activists and environmental organizations working to reduce methane emissions.

The Basewei report analyzes records that gas companies need to include in the state the details of the program and its maintenance costs. According to the report, the price tag for the plumbing replacement program has risen to $ 20 billion, contrary to the Big Diag. According to the report, the program encourages the replacement of pipes instead of repairs, which are usually less expensive and less durable.

Evaluating the first version of the report, Senator Mike Barrett called residents’ amazing watershed analysis: “When will we stop investing in something like a new infrastructure like ours?” As we know, is it moving away from natural gas enterprise? ”

A.D. Asked to review the future of the natural gas industry in light of Massachusetts’ climate goals by 2020, Attorney General Maura Heley said:

In a written response from National Grid, spokeswoman Christine Milgan said the company’s main concern is safety, and that leaks must be repaired in accordance with the law. Instead of repairing sewer pipes, she said, replacing them would provide long-term savings and better safety results because otherwise the pipeline would continue to deteriorate, and the estimated $ 20 billion could be overstated.

“The future of the network looks different, and there are many options to explore,” he said. The most important thing right now is to make sure that any changes to the current situation do not increase the security risk.

Everestes’ spokeswoman Caroline Pretman said the company was working with Commonwealth to achieve its climate goals. However, he said, achieving these goals will not happen overnight and should be done in conjunction with ensuring safe and secure services until we realize our common net energy debt.

“The Baker-Polito administration is committed to maintaining the highest level of safety for the Commonwealth natural gas system, and will review the report,” said Craig Gilvarg, communications director for the State Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. For public health and the environment. Pipes, For 50 years or more, methane has been emitted – a greenhouse gas that is more powerful than carbon dioxide. Although there are thousands of leaks, most are small and do not cause immediate danger or explosion. Through the Commonwealth, people have reported that trees near known gas streams are dying, and if the trees become ill, advocates are concerned about what they might mean for human health.

Amid public outcry, the law was easily passed – the program helped taxpayers and gas companies pay nothing. Instead, it has allowed gas companies, which spend most of their money to send money to people’s homes, not to pay for their gas bills.

With the new law in place, gas companies have set a goal of eventually replacing one-third of all pipelines in the state by installing new, long-lasting gas networks. “It’s a big deal for the companies,” said Lori Ehrlich, a spokeswoman for the company. A Democrat who has been drafting legislation on gas leaks since 2009. “It was like we were shopping for a new car in their old car, and the price paid,” she said.

But over the years, the role of natural gas in climate change has improved, and the state’s policies have not changed. By 2050, they will not ask for anything other than fossil fuels. , One of the founders of the Gaseous Partnership. “The basic assumptions behind GSEP have changed,” he said.

When the state is depleted of fossil fuels, it is expected that gas consumers will begin mass-switching to electricity. The report warns that this could lead to astronomical costs – perhaps the inability to convert electricity to heating – to replace the pipeline.

For low-income families, small businesses, and tenants: they are the ones who are paying more and more for their services and are still facing higher and higher fixed costs, ”said Elizabeth Stanton. Pipeline replacement program has previously been analyzed by the Director of Applied Economics Clinic and Senior Economist.

Meanwhile, according to the report, gas companies have so far replaced 5,300 miles of pipes with less than 2,000 miles – all using the 60-year-old pipeline, decades after gas could no longer be used. And with thousands of leaks repaired every year, CVV said the program was slower than expected and that the program would take longer than expected.

At the start of the program, Anne Berwick, chair of the Department of Public Utilities, described the Basewei report as “excellent” and described how the example of natural gas in the Commonwealth has changed. “We will spend all this money on programs and infrastructure that we know we need to tackle climate change, such as electrification,” he said.

But according to the report, moving away from a gas pipeline replacement program is not easy. The state is still working on how to run it efficiently With the transition from fossil fuels, and the difficult details of getting residents to choose their home heating system, gas pipes are needed – and leaks continue.

Critics of the pipe replacement program say there is a good solution.

According to a 2016 study, only 7 percent of the waste in the Greater Boston area is responsible for half of all methane emissions. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

As the facilities continue to deal with the most dangerous leaks, Barz said Commonwealth will begin to make some difficult decisions. “Except in the most extreme cases, we have to choose the places where we really want to get rid of fossil fuels in order to extract our limited capital resources from fossil fuels,” he said.

He said one possible solution would be a fully fledged exit program Communities to abandon natural gas and shut down local pipelines.

Advocates and lawmakers are pushing for an in-depth look at the program, said Zineb Mavivi, Cambridge’s non-profit HEET co-ordinator for energy efficiency in Cambridge. “I think we have the opportunity to create some kind of more sophisticated plan that will lead some investment into a new carbon-free infrastructure,” he said.


Sabrina Shankman can be reached at sabrina.shankman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Shankman.

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