Holyoke utility, citing pipeline constraints, halts natural gas hookups
Baker administration shows no interest in expanding natural gas infrastructure
SUPPORTERS OF BUILDING another natural gas pipeline into the region have been quiet for some time, but they resurfaced on Thursday after discovering a municipal utility in Holyoke had declared a moratorium on new natural gas hookups last month.
Holyoke Gas & Electric announced on January 28 that pipeline capacity constraints were preventing access to new supplies of natural gas, requiring the imposition of a moratorium on news natural gas connections.
“While inexpensive natural gas has never been more plentiful in the United States, there is insufficient pipeline capacity in our region to deliver additional load,” the company said in a notice to customers. “Recent proposals that would increase natural gas capacity in the region have been met with opposition, and the current pipeline constraints are causing significant adverse environmental and economic impacts on the region’s ratepayers.”
The company said it was working on a possible solution that would involve system upgrades in other communities, but the firm didn’t specify what actions were needed. A company spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
But pipeline supporters seized on the Holyoke news to make their case for more pipe in the ground. Stephen Dodge, executive director of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council, said the Holyoke announcement means 10 communities with more than 150,000 residents can no longer expand their use of natural gas.
“There’s no shortage of natural gas – there’s a shortage of sensible policy about energy infrastructure,” Dodge said in a statement.The Mass Coalition for Sustainable Energy, a group set up by pipeline and business interests to advocate for more energy infrastructure, said the Holyoke announcement means the region lacks the pipeline capacity to meet its energy needs.
“While a transition to renewable energy sources remains the goal, the fact is that this moratorium will be followed by others that will stall development and threaten our economy while continuing to have the perverse effect of sliding backwards on emissions reductions,” the coalition said in a statement. “With gas unavailable, businesses and power plants are forced to rely on high emitting energy sources like oil and coal.”