The Connecticut General Assembly’s Environment Committee approved a bill that would prohibit natural gas utilities from charging their customers for leaked gas into the environment.
CEMA would like to thank Steve Rosentel of Leahy’s Fuel (Danbury), John Daniels of Daniels Energy (Portland), Steve Sack of Sack Energy (West Hartford), and Brian Guarco of Stateline Propane (Granby) for testifying in support of the bill. CEMA asked for the bill to be raised to help level the playing field and to protect consumers and the environment form natural gas leaks. The bill received support from PGANE, the Sierra Club and a number of other environmental organization. The committee voted 28 to 1 vote to approve the bill that is now headed to the State Senate. CEMA members are asked to come to the March on Hartford to help lobby the bill into law. Below are the talking points that CEAM uses to advance this legislation.
- PA 14-152, requires that natural gas customers pay for natural gas that is leaked into the environment. This law created a disincentive for the utilities to fix gas leaks and SB 232 fixes that.
- State law requires that petroleum leaks are remediated immediately – the same standard does not apply to natural gas monopolies, creating an uneven playing field that favors utilities over local family owned businesses.
- The Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club found* that in Hartford alone, gas pipelines leak approximately 43,000 cubic feet per day, or 313 metric tons of gas per year. That is equivalent spilling 320 gallons of heating oil per day or 117,000 gallons per year.
- According to EPA, the methane that is contained in natural gas is 87 times more efficient at trapping greenhouse gases and has higher emissions than ultra low sulfur heating oil blended with 2% biodiesel.
- The bill needs to be amended to require all leaking natural gas infrastructure be repaired.
- Eversource can afford to fix their leaks – they reported 3rd quarter earnings of $289.4 million compared with earnings of $260.4 million in the previous year – almost a $30 million increase. In the first nine months of 2018, they earned $801.7 million according to their own news release. Jim Judge, Eversource chairman, president and chief executive officer said “We are… continuing to be an attractive investment for our shareholders.”
- The Sierra Club found that the number of natural gas leaks identified in their study far exceed the number of leaks that are reported to the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) by fivefold.
- The state has a policy to convert 300,000 heating oil and propane customers to natural gas while they get a pass on fixing known gas leaks.
- How can the state allow the utilities to place a 30% surcharge on consumers who convert to natural gas, but not require the investment that it would take to fix ongoing natural gas leaks to be fixed? *https://issuu.com/ctsierraclub/docs/hartford__ct_mobile_methane_leak_su
- Natural gas utilities oppose this bill because they are increasing profits while they bill their customers for the fuel that they are allowed to leak into the environment!
- PURA has acknowledged in their previous testimony on this issue that the state has an “increasing” backlog of natural gas leaks, but oppose this bill despite the impact on the environment and ratepayers.
- PURA argues that that the gas companies should not move resources away from the replacement of old pipelines (which is estimated by Yankee Gas to take 67 years), but at the same time they allow the utilities to build new infrastructure by 900 miles.
- PURA does not seem to be concerned about the cost of new pipeline construction, they are not in a hurry to require the utilities to replace old pipelines, and now they don’t like legislation that would have other leaks repaired.
- CEMA asks that natural gas companies be treated the same as family owned Connecticut based fuel dealers and be required to fix fuel leaks!