Renewed interest in pipeline project raises questions from city councilors | News


SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) New pushback on a natural gas pipeline project originally proposed by Columbia Gas and picked up by Eversource. Eversource executives met with Springfield city councilors Thursday and a Longmeadow woman is planning to stand against the renewed effort.

One woman’s main concern is the environmental impact of the project. Springfield city councilors also want to understand why Eversource wants to build the pipeline and at what cost.

“We believe that it is unnecessary pipeline expansion. and that it poses a danger to the health and safety of our community,” said Michele Marantz, chair of the Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group.

Marantz and a group of concerned residents have been fighting to stop the construction of the pipeline for three years now.

The natural gas pipeline would stretch from Springfield to Longmeadow.

The proposed gas pipeline will go from Longmeadow to the south end of Springfield.

Marantz wants Longmeadow residents to come out against this proposal.

“Where they want to build it is a residential zone…I would like to see a massive uprising in opposition to this,” said Marantz.

Marantz plans to pass out flyers and she has a younger advocate helping out.

“This is not something that will help us. This is actually going to hurt our community. We do not need fossil fuels. We do not need more natural gas in our community. we should be diverting to more natural resources,” said Ella Barton, co-founder and co-president of Longmeadow High School’s climate change club.

During the Springfield City Council subcommittee meeting on Thursday, Eversource leaders explained this project is designed to update and strengthen the backbone of their natural gas system in western Mass. by adding the pipeline connecting Longmeadow to the south end of Springfield. They said it’s needed to reduce the risk of gas service interruption to an estimated 58 thousand customers in the area.

Meanwhile, Eversource said the cost of this project ranges from $22.7 million to more than $32.7 million dollars. During the meeting, City Councilor Jesse Lederman asked who would pay for this.

“It’s my understanding, that is borne by all the ratepayers. Just like other projects in the state, large or small, that becomes part of our rate case we bring forward to the DPU,” said Joe Mitchell, Eversource community relations specialist for Springfield and Longmeadow

This comes a week after Eversource announced if their latest rate request is approved by the Department of Public Utility, gas customers could be paying about 20 percent more starting in November.

But Eversource said the pipeline project is vital, as identified by Columbia Gas before Eversource took it over last year.

“It is not an expansion project. This is reliability. We’re doing this because we, Eversource, we are beholding to the Department of Public Utility and to our customers to reliability to deliver their energy products. And we’ve identified a risk. Our previous company Columbia gas identified it,” said Mitchell.

Marantz said she plans to take her concerns about the proposed project to the Department of Public Utility. She hopes others do as well, as they are the ones that could give Eversource the green light.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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