Legislative Action!

Letter Writing Action Alert… Letter Writing Action Alert… Letter Writing Action Alert

Mass Dept of Public Utilities Denies Citizens of Berkshire County
(and others) Intervenor Status

Our rights are being curtailed by our own appointed officials.
We need to speak up and reach out to our legislators for help.

What you should know –

  • Berkshire Gas Co. wants to help Kinder Morgan (KM) demonstrate to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) there is a need to build the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline. They do this by entering into an agreement with KM to purchase gas from the pipeline if it is built. This “Precedent Agreement” needs to be approved by the MA Dept. of Public Utilities (DPU) before KM can include Berkshire Gas as a future customer in their application to FERC.
  • Berkshire Gas Co. has a very poor record of fixing gas leaks and promoting energy efficiency. Properly implementing these programs would preclude the need for additional gas infrastructure to meet Massachusetts’ year-round demand.
  • DPU is obliged to receive comments from the public and hold a hearing about the Precedent Agreement (Docket 15-37). They held a hearing in Boston and, under pressure from citizens and at the urging of State Senator Stan Rosenberg, held a second hearing in Greenfield, MA on June 11th. Many local officials and a number of state legislators spoke out against the Precedent Agreement – over 200 people made public comments and over 700 people showed up to support them.
  • Mass Pipeline Awareness Network (MassPLAN) and Northeast Energy Solutions (NEES) represent environmental organizations, land trusts, and thousands of concerned citizens in western MA. These two organizations each have hired “big gun” lawyers to represent our interests in fighting the NED proposal. Both filed for “Intervenor Status” in Berkshire Gas’ Precedent Agreement docket. Intervenor Status would allow them to submit legal depositions to seek documents, testimony and other undisclosed evidence from Berkshire Gas.
  • Intervenor Status Was Denied – The DPU said these two organizations have not shown they are “substantially and specifically affected by this proceeding.” In other words, MA DPU thinks WE are not “substantially and specifically affected by this proceeding.” Appeal of this decision has been denied as well.
  • PS – the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission DID grant intervenor status to PLAN-NorthEast for the Liberty Utility proceedings.
  • PPS – here’s a news tidbit – Berkshire Gas Co. is just a small part of a US subsidiary of the multi-national, energy transport corporation Iberdrola, headquartered in Spain. They don’t have the least concern about what is good for Western MA. They are interested in as much build-out of energy infrastructure as they can get, whether it be for renewables or fossil fuel.

Why you should care –

  • We need to stand up for our rights, and we deserve for our legal representatives to have full access to information. Our complacency and/or our silence just opens the door wider for big monied interests to run the show.
  • Our legal representatives having greater access to information can only increase the chances of us stopping the NED and promoting the renewable energy infrastructure we all want…and really do need.

What you can do –

  • Contact your State Legislators about holding a Legislative Hearing on DPU’s ruling to deny Intervenor Status to MassPLAN, NEES, and State Rep. Stephen Kulik. Please see Rose Wessel’s (NoFrackedGasinMass) excellent article with details and links of “what you can do.” There is even a sample letter to get you started!
  • Copy all your state legislators (find them here), Governor Baker, Maura Healey (MA Attorney General).
  • Copy the members of the MA Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (you can find the members here, and clicking on their names automatically opens an email addressed to them).

If you’d like to join the 350Mass-Berkshires Legislative Team, please contact us at [email protected]


Visit our Resources page for a complete list of legislative contacts with links to email, sample letters, and more!


Letter-writing Tips and Sample Letter:

  • Letter writing can be an important way we participate in our government
    • We elect people to represent us, but we need to continue the relationship and let them know how we feel.
  • Letter writing does not need to be long and involved – here’s a simple framework you can apply to almost any letter to gov’t officials:
  1. Dear __________________
  1. Introduce the topic
    • I’m writing about…..;   I just learned …….
  1. Lay the groundwork/educate – relevant facts and any supporting comment, data, or personal impact or experience
    • Try to stay focused on relevant facts with a sprinkle of personal.
  1. What is the problem – the “issue”
    • It seems unreasonable that…..
      Given that their role is …….
      I’m concerned about…..
  1. The request/question
    • I’m asking you to…..
      How can you…..?
      What can the legislature…..?
  1. The “thank you” – legislators really appreciate being thanked…they mostly hear complaints
    • I appreciate…..; Thank you for ….
  1. The follow up/accountability
    • I hope to hear from you about….
      Please let me know….
  1. Sincerely …..

Sample letter about the DPU denying MassPlan and Rep Kulick Intervenor Status –

Dear Rep. ____________

I’m writing about the recent decision of the MA DPU to deny Intervenor Status to Rep. Stephen Kulik and Mass Pipeline Awareness Network (MassPLAN) in the Berkshire Gas precedent agreement hearing for Docket 15-37. Berkshire Gas wants to enter into long-term contracts with Kinder Morgan to buy gas transported through the proposed Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline. The DPU has decided neither Rep. Kulik nor the members of MassPLAN (of which I am a member) are “substantially and specifically affected by this proceeding.” Kinder Morgan will use this contract to justify to the FERC the “need” for the pipeline.

I believe Massachusetts can meet its energy needs without this pipeline, and since I may be forced to pay for the pipeline, and I will most certainly have to live with the consequences of MA investing in and burning more fossil fuel – in addition to the collateral effects on renewable resources development should this pipeline project go forward – this seems a most unreasonable and undemocratic decision by the MA DPU. I feel my right and the right of many others in your district to full representation is being denied.

I am asking you today, as my representative, to please do what you can to hold a Legislative Hearing on this DPU decision. This decision should not be allowed to “slide” through.

I look forward to hearing what action you can take to help.

Thank you for what you already do to promote renewable energy in our state.

Sincerely,

 

 

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