2015-2016 Gas Leaks Legislation

A recent article in the Boston Globe has drawn attention back to the more than 20,000 active natural gas leaks across the state.  HEET MA, a local nonprofit, has used the information disclosed by utilities as required by 2014 legislation to create maps detailing the locations of the leaks.  There are gas leaks in over 200 communities across the commonwealth, including Belmont, Boston and Watertown.

The 2014 gas leaks legislation created a registry and a three tiered classification system to prioritize and mandate repairs for the two larger classes of leaks.  There are two bills relative to gas leaks that are under consideration in the current session :

H.2871/S.1767 “An Act relative to gas leak repairs during road projects” Filed by Rep. Ehrlich and Sen. Eldridge and cosponsored by Senator Brownsberger, this legislation would require all gas leaks to be repaired when a road is opened up for construction.  The 2014 gas leaks legislation required only the two most severe classifications of leaks to be repaid during construction.  The lowest grade leaks to do not create an immediate public safety risk but these leaks do nonetheless contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and waste ratepayer money.

H.2870/S.1768 “An act relative to protecting consumers of gas and electricity from paying for leaked and unaccounted for gas” Filed by Rep. Ehrlich and Sen. Eldridge, would prohibit utilities from charging ratepayers for the cost of unaccounted for gas.  This would benefit consumers, who would no longer have to pay for the cost of lost gas. It also creates an economic incentive for utilities to repair leaks by holding them responsible for the cost of lost gas.

Andrew Bettinelli
Legislative Aide
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger