Leaky Gas Pipes Costing Massachusetts Consumers

A new congressional report says Massachusetts residents paid 1-point-5-billion dollars over the last decade for natural gas they did not receive.  

Utilities are allowed to charge customers for natural gas that the companies can’t account for. Much of the lost gas escapes through small leaks in old or damaged pipes. To upgrade the delivery system, utilities have to front the cost. Chris Farrell is a spokesperson for Berkshire Gas. He says his company has spent 17-million dollars on new gas lines in the last decade and so far has had to swallow those costs.

“Cost recovery for system replacement is typically done when a company goes in for a rate proceeding, generally to increase their rates to customers. Berkshire Gas has not gone in for a rate increase in more than ten years.”,  Farrell says. 

There have been bills filed in the state legislature to make the recovery process easier and U-S Senator Edward Markey is proposing a similar measure at the federal level. 
 
Besides the economic part of this — and obvious public safety worries–there’s another concern.  George Bachrach is the president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. He says leaky gas lines also have an impact on energy efficiency efforts which have been a focus of Governor Deval Patrick’s administration.
 
“We are losing more natural gas through these leaks than we are achieving savings through energy efficiency, so all the good work we’re doing by making Massachusetts the most energy efficient state in the country is sort of going down the drain.”, Bachrach says.  
 
The report says 69-billion cubic feet of natural gas were released into the atmosphere nationwide last year. That’s enough to meet demands for entire state of Maine for  a year.