Columbia Gas Expansion Action Alert – deadline Feb 13 5pm

Instructions for commenting at the DPU re: Columbia Gas proceeding 17-172

UPDATE 2/18/18: YOU CAN STILL SEND IN COMMENTS and they will appear in the docket listing, even though the official deadline was Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018  5 PM. 

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts has filed a petition with the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Utilities (DPU) for approval of several contracts, which the company says is a critical step towards ending its moratorium on new gas service in Northampton and Easthampton. The contracts under review include a 20-year pipeline capacity agreement with Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (TGP) for Columbia’s Greater Springfield Service Area.  This TGP contract would provide a financing mechanism for what would ultimately be ratepayer-funded expansion of TGP and Columbia’s gas infrastructure in Hampden County, enabling Columbia Gas to further expand its gas customer base in Hampshire and Hampden County.  

This contract case, DPU 17-172, coincides with the Columbia Gas 5-year Forecast and Supply Plan case also recently filed, DPU 17-166, in which Columbia Gas contemplates expansion of gas service in its Greater Springfield Service Area and presumes an annual increase in gas consumption in Northampton and Easthampton of 2.2% — for a greater that 25% increase in gas consumption over less than ten years.  

Climate Action Now (CAN) has filed a comment on the DPU docket opposing the Columbia Gas expansion plans and their contract with TGP.  We are asking that allies — organizations and individuals — also submit brief comments in opposition to the Columbia Gas petition, including comments that are simply filed in support of CAN’s filing.

***What you can do:  

– File your own comments by February 13th per the official notice in the Columbia Gas DPU proceedings.

  • Recommended: Email copies to the DPU Chair, Angie O’Connor,; DPU commissioners and; your legislators; and your Mayor’s office.  

– Participate in the hearing at DPU’s Boston South Station office 2pm on February 13th.

The Docket Number to reference pertaining to the Columbia Gas contract with TGP (called a “precedent agreement”) is DPU Docket No. 17-172.  

Basic talking points (please craft your own sentences; copied & pasted comments decrease the effect of all comments):

– If you are a Columbia Gas ratepayer, specify.

– Say you are writing in support of Climate Action Now’s comments in this docket.

– Ask that a hearing also be held in Northampton so that more local people can hear about and weigh in on the plans.

– Express your array of concerns regarding this pipeline buildout project and Columbia’s presumption of increased gas consumption at a time when our state and local governments are seeking to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

A targeted solution to reduce winter demand peaks would allow Columbia Gas to expand its customer base.  The only capacity constraints we have heard about are during winter peak demand times (generally a dozen or so days per year).  These solutions include bold insulation and weatherization programs, seriously addressing leaks in the distribution system, and demand response (load-shifting) measures, as well as increased storage of alternative fuels for peak demand.

Request a stay of this contract proceeding until the review of the Columbia Gas long-range Forecast and Supply Plan has been completed in DPU Docket No. 17-166. Columbia Gas should not be moving forward with specific contracts before its broader plan has been approved or modified.  

Please share this message with your local network.

For people in towns served by BERKSHIRE GAS:
Berkshire Gas also has a TGP contract (and others) now under review at the Dept. of Public Utilities, with the same commenting deadline of Feb 13 5pm.  You can include both docket numbers in your comments and specify whether you are a ratepayer of one or the other gas providers.
The notice re the Berkshire Gas case is here in DPU Docket No. 17-145.
Unlike Columbia, Berkshire Gas has been very vague about what their plans are, and they should be called out for that.

CLICK HERE for link to a printable .PDF file of these instructions.

To see existing comments, go to and type 17-172 in the search box.