October 19, 2017
New Study Reveals Source of Higher Energy Prices

Eversource, Avangrid artificially constrained
gas pipeline capacity for years

Researchers estimate withholding of pipeline capacity cost New England electricity customers $3.6 billion over the past three years.
By Gavin Bade, Utility Dive
October 11, 2017

A new academic analysis argues gas utility subsidiaries of Avangrid and Eversource have artificially constrained gas pipeline capacity in New England for years, driving up natural gas and electricity prices and potentially violating federal laws.

The systematic withholding of pipeline capacity, particularly on the coldest days, has cost New England electricity consumers $3.6 billion in higher prices over the past three years, according to “Vertical Market Power in Interconnected Natural Gas and Electricity Markets," a new white paper.

A group of university researchers working with the Environmental Defense Fund found that local gas distribution utilities owned by the two holding companies regularly scheduled more gas than they needed on the Algonquin Pipeline in Connecticut and Massachusetts, only to cancel some of the orders later in the day — too late for the pipeline space to be resold.

This practice, referred to as down-scheduling, “essentially locks up some pipeline capacity,” said Matthew Zaragoza-Watkins, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the report. On the worst days, including during the Polar Vortex of 2013-2014, up to 7% of Algonquin’s capacity could be artificially constrained.
“When you relate that back to gas-fired generators, that’s about 28% of the gas that would be demanded,” Zaragoza-Watkins said.

This “capacity withholding,” researchers wrote, “increased average gas and electricity prices by 38% and 20%, respectively, over the three year period we study.”

In Connecticut, Investigation underway into allegations of market abuse by Eversource, Avangrid
By Kaitlyn Naples and Roger Susanin, WFSB News
October 17, 2017

An investigation being conducted by PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) is looking into allegations of market power abuse by Eversource and Avangrid.

According to a press release by the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), a recent investigation was initiated in response to a recent report that was conducted by various university researchers who were working with the Environmental Defense Fund.
PURA says local gas distribution companies run by Eversource and Avangrid (Yankee, CNG, and SCG) deliberately created shortages so they could charge more.

A report from researchers working with the Environmental Defense Fund alleges the companies drove up electric and natural gas rates, costing utility customers around New England billions of extra dollars in higher prices.

If the allegations are true, then some of the state's largest utility companies could owe hundreds of thousands of customers an apology and maybe much more.

"If they contributed or caused the shortage conditions and these exorbitantly high gas prices, that's a big problem, we already have some of the highest rates in the country," said Consumer Counsel Elin Katz.

Rally at Hartford, CT Eversource Office
Join CT Sierra Club, 350 CT, Consumers for Sensible Energy and other allies at this protest, and help us amplify the message to the public, the media, state leadership, Eversource and Avangrid that duplicitous utility company practices hurt consumers, raise energy prices and invalidate the need for public investment in expanded fracked gas infrastructure. Increased fracked gas pipelines ARE NOT NEEDED. We have said for years that the pipelines are not operating at capacity and this new EDF study confirms that.
4:30 pm
October 24, 2017
56 Prospect Street
Hartford, CT

Kinder Morgan files request to place CT Expansion project in service as of November 1st
» Read the request filed on the FERC docket
By Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle
October 5, 2017

Indigenous Water Protectors and Environmentalists Call on TD Bank to Divest From Fossil Fuels

On Monday, October 23 concerned citizens will be gathering at the Southern Berkshire District Court In Great Barrington at 9 am where four Water Protectors from Standing Rock will have a pre-trial hearing for their non-violent prayerful actions to stop the pipeline in Otis.

After a press conference on the courthouse steps, the Water Protectors, activists from the Sugar Shack Alliance and local allies will walk to the center of Great Barrington. There, clergy and indigenous leaders will hold a prayer service in front of TD Bank. A Call for Divestment will be read and distributed, stating in part, “As consumers and customers of all sizes, we demand TD Bank stop using our money to fund tar sands pipelines that our communities and planet cannot afford. We call on our neighbors, elected officials, and pension managers to close all accounts with TD Bank unless they immediately stop financing tar sands pipelines.”

The divestment action is part of three days of global divestment actions. “We are walking from the courthouse to the bank to point out that the human and environmental violations of fossil fuel pipelines, in Otis State Forest and around the country, are only possible with the funding of large financial institutions like TD Bank,” said Steven Botkin, a member of the Sugar Shack Alliance. “We are asking individuals, towns and institutions to close their accounts at TD Bank and move their money to local banks and credit unions.”

» Facebook Event for 7 Days of Action

WATER Prayer Service
Right now, Otis State Forest is suffering the wrath of an ignorant corporation who’s agenda is profits over the planet, the people, and everything dependent on clean water to survive. The pipeline is reportedly 95% complete. Come pray for the water. Bring Your Family and Friends. We are asking that all Pipe carriers/ Staff carriers, Drummers/ and Singers come and pray with us. Hosted by W A T E R – We Are The Earth’s Resistance, Sugar Shack Alliance and All Nationz Rising
10 AM – 1 PM
Lower Spectacle Pond
Sandisfield, MA

» Facebook Event Page

Benefit Concert: Protecting Indigenous Sacred Stone Sites
A benefit concert to raise funds for the protection of Indigenous sacred stone landscapes. The forests of New England are dotted with Ceremonial Stone Landscapes, living prayers of stone created by the Indigenous peoples of this region. The traditional belief is that these stone structures were placed to create and restore harmony between human beings and Mother Earth. The prayers they embody continue to live as long as the stone landscapes are kept intact. Some of these Ceremonial Stone Landscapes are now being destroyed for gas pipeline projects. Doug Harris, Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for NITHPO, will introduce the program by providing a brief illustrated overview of Ceremonial Stone Landscapes and their importance.

Musicians: Joe Graveline and Nina Gross; Pat and Tex LaMountain, Cathy Sylvester and Joe Pod; Orlen and Gabriel; and Kate O’Connor and Rico from Blue Rendezvous
Tix: $15 online at Sheatheater.org; $18 at the door

» More information or to make online contributions
5 PM – 7:30 PM
Shea Theatre Arts Centre
71 Avenue A
Turners Falls, MA

» Facebook Event

Listening Sessions on Transportation Sector Emissions Scheduled by Baker Administration

— Transportation Sector Emissions Listening Session. Sessions across the Commonwealth to discuss solutions to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, hosted by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). These listening sessions highlight the collaborative approach the Baker-Polito Administration is taking to work across state government and with our cities and towns to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The public listening sessions for stakeholders will cover strategies to:
• Reduce transportation sector emissions through measures addressing vehicles, fuels, and land use;
• Develop a comprehensive regional strategy for the deployment of zero emission vehicles;
• Increase the resilience of transportation infrastructure as the climate changes; and
• Address environmental justice, low income and rural communities.
» More info on dates / times / locations of listening sessions

MA Sierra Club Holds Transportation
"Cap & Invest" Webinar

The transportation system in Massachusetts is like the weather - everyone complains about it but no one does anything about it. With your help, that may be about to change.

Whether it’s public transit, high speed rail, walking and biking infrastructure, or roads and bridges, the Commonwealth’s transportation system leaves a lot to be desired:
-       Polluting
-       Expensive
-       Inequitable
-       Unreliable
-       Under-funded
-       Under-maintained

And the funding problems in particular will only exacerbate as vehicle fuel economy improves, yielding fewer gas tax revenues. (Vehicle fuel taxes pay for nearly a third of our transportation costs.) This free webinar will offer an overview of an approach that has worked well in the electric sector in terms of reducing costs and yielding revenues to be re-invested wisely, and could offer a model for the transportation sector as well.

In the electric sector, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (or RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”), is a “cap and invest” program that puts a regional limit on pollution, requires power plant operators to purchase allowances for any carbon pollution they produce, and proceeds from those allowance sales are invested in energy efficiency and clean energy, which creates jobs and boosts the economy.

States, including Massachusetts, are actively considering expanding this model for the transportation sector. But they want to know if the public would support it.
Join this webinar to learn more details and get all your questions answered, and ideally suggest this approach at an upcoming listening session!

Daniel Gatti, Union of Concerned Scientists
Emily Norton, MA Sierra Club
Jordan Stutt, Acadia Center
Joel Wool, Clean Water Action
Cost: Free
7:30 - 9:00 PM 
October 24, 2017  

• Signup Instructions: Register here, and webinar instructions will be emailed to you.
Join the #StandUpCharlie Stand-in against
new natural gas infrastructure!

The stand-in is on! 350 Mass members (along with folks from partnering churches and organizations) will keep coming back in deliberately larger numbers to the Governor's office. We and our amazing partners in Mass Power Forward are asking the Governor to honor his Paris Climate pledge by producing an executive order against all new natural gas infrastructure projects. We will keep coming back until Governor Baker backs up his words with meaningful climate action!

To participate in future office visits, or to find out how you can get involved in other ways to support this campaign, FILL OUT THIS FORM

Mass Power Forward encourages your input
on the proposed Environmental Justice Act

Everyone has the right to clean air, clean water and a stable climate. But here's a sad fact: low-income communities and communities of color literally breathe different air than affluent and predominantly white communities, resulting in greater rates of asthma, heart problems and hospitalization.

Since 2002, Massachusetts has failed to implement a basic framework for protecting already-overburdened communities from risks to their health and safety. Communities like Brockton, fighting a fracked gas power plant; Chelsea, working to cut diesel pollution and halt volatile ethanol trains; Springfield, pushing to clean up mold in school buildings; or Revere and Lynn, fighting a nearby ash landfill. These aren't the only stories.

For years, activists in Massachusetts have urge our state to take action on environmental justice––and we've waited long enough. Can you join us in saying: "Environmental Justice, now!"? We can't wait any longer to ensure every resident of our state has clean air and water. Let's make sure our legislature is listening. Fight for environmental justice today.

Joel, Claire and Alan, on behalf of Mass Power Forward

Presentation by Dr. Curt Nordgaard
on Proposed Weymouth compressor station

Air pollution and the proposed Weymouth compressor station: What was left out of the draft air pollution permit? FRRACS will present air pollution modeling data relating to blowdowns (releases of natural gas) from the compressor station. A short presentation will be followed by discussion of the modeling technique, results, and next steps. All are welcome to attend. The presentation will be directed to the potentially affected communities in Quincy, Weymouth and Braintree, as well as other South Shore residents who use Rt 3A and the Fore River Bridge.
6:30 PM
Monday, October 23
Fore River Clubhouse
16 Nevada Road
Quincy, MA

Natural gas project proposed in Rehoboth
by Joseph Siegel, The Sun Chronicle
October 14, 2017

REHOBOTH — Officials from Liberty Utilities discussed a natural gas pipeline expansion project with the board of selectmen last week. The company has applied for a street opening permit and installation license for the residential development known as The Reserve at Spring Hill on Spring Street.

Liberty Utilities, based in Fall River, operates in 10 states and maintains over 30 electric, gas and water utility systems.

The first phase of the project will involve the installation of about two miles of natural gas main to serve 26 housing units. Later phases may result in the installation of additional main to serve up to 175 more housing units. There is also the potential for on-main conversions of existing homes and businesses.

Slow Down on Back Bay Pipeline
by James Michel, Boston Clean Energy Coalition and Ania Camargo, Mothers Out Front
October 19, 2017

Boston - Today the Public Improvement Commission delayed action on National Grid’s proposed gas pipeline expansion for the Back Bay. Yesterday Boston City Council voted unanimously to ask the Public Improvement Commission to hold off on making any binding decisions on a controversial pipeline proposal for the Back Bay.

Councillor Josh Zakim presented the resolution, “I first heard about this pipeline in my district some months ago. One of the issues here is there has not been enough attention. This is a major addition to the non-renewable infrastructure in the City of Boston. If we want to be bold, better, greener, planning for the future, we need to start now and talk about what kind of infrastructure we’re building. We need to make sure the people in our neighborhoods know what is happening.”

Councillor Matt O’Malley co-presented the resolution and commented, “With the paucity of leadership in Washington, it's up to cities and towns to work on combatting climate change. Our focus should be on building renewable energy infrastructure, not furthering our reliance on fossil fuels. I was proud to partner with Josh Zakim in unanimously passing a resolution that seeks to protect the residents of Boston.”

 » Read the full story

Many more events including weekly vigils
and protests on our Events Page

We're fighting the CT Expansion pipeline, Atlantic Bridge and others, keeping an eye out for possible resurrection of NED or other new projects. We're also working with PLAN-NE, Mass Power Forward and other organizations to help ensure bold steps away from fossil fuel dependency continue and grow!

No Fracked Gas in Mass is a program of Berkshire Environmental Action Team. Donations made through our direct online Donation button or mailed in check are tax deductible.