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Explainer: why we need people to sign up for PLAN this week; time is of the essence

Rosemary Wessel  is the founder of No Fracked Gas in Mass.  Here she explains why PLAN (Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast) needs people to sign on as members today.
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One of the seldom discussed steps in pipeline proposal approvals is the application for approval of contracts between the pipeline company and their potential Local Distribution customer companies.
One of our ancillary organizations, Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast, Inc. (“PLAN”) is a broad-based coalition is working to prevent the overbuild of fossil-fuel infrastructure, and is focused on opposing the proposed Kinder Morgan NED pipeline.

This request is time sensitive, and requires some explanation:

Berkshire Gas and other gas companies are trying to contract with Kinder Morgan to buy gas from the proposed pipeline.  They can’t finalize these contracts without approval from the DPU.  When Kinder Morgan goes to FERC, these contracts (called precedent agreements) are the main factor FERC looks at in determining whether there is “need” for a pipeline.  We have found through our involvement in a similar proceedings in New Hampshire that at least one similar contract calls for for significantly more gas than the local company could use based on a 20-year forecast.

Berkshire Gas, Columbia Gas and National Grid have opened precedent agreement approval dockets at the DPU, which are moving very fast.  PLAN has petitioned to intervene in the Columbia and National Grid dockets, and we will file in the Berkshire Gas docket on Friday.  If we get intervenor status, we can appear as full parties in the dockets.  This would give us access to confidential financial and engineering information from the companies and allow us to cross-examine the companies, and seek more information pertaining to the moratoria that Berkshire and Columbia have in place.  The DPU has denied our initial petitions in the Columbia and National Grid dockets, and we are appealing this ruling on Wednesday.

We are asking municipalities, public officials and businesses and individuals to help PLAN get intervenor status at the DPU by signing on as members. Customers of these gas companies are especially valuable, but anyone is welcome.

We already know from publicly available information that Kinder Morgan has previously proposed smaller solutions that would be much less destructive.  Research has uncovered a number of other options to bring in more gas that should be explored before applying for this high-impact proposal.  

These possible solutions are separate from the question of whether Columbia Gas or Berkshire Gas can make more gas available by reducing the waste of gas from its leaky pipes and implementing stronger energy efficiency programs.  This is also separate from the question of whether the state should be doubling down on efforts to increase renewable energy rather than bring in more gas.  All of these issues are being considered at the DPU in a number of different proceedings.  By joining the PLAN, you can help make sure that local people have a say in these proceedings.
Gaining as many PLAN-NE members as possible THIS WEEK is really crucial for this part of the fight. It is a strategy that could stop the pipeline proposal in its tracks if they fail to get these local distribution company contracts approved.
If possible, please ask your members to sign on with PLAN-NE at:
While donations are VERY welcome (and necessary) for us to cover the high cost of legal representation, there is no miminum donation required to join. We do not want personal finances to be a barrier to representation.
Also, if their towns are communities served by these companies and they have rapport with their municipal government, PLAN-NE is interested in signing on municipal governments as well.