Replacing Massachusetts’s gas pipes will cost billions, new report shows

Gas Leaks Allies’s new report.

According to an eye-opening report detailed in this week’s Boston Globe, billions of dollars are being poured into installing brand new gas pipes in Massachusetts–even as the state transitions off fossil fuels. 

The report, commissioned by the Gas Leaks Allies coalition, found that the state’s Gas System Enhancement Program, or GSEP, was “intended to increase safety and reduce emissions,” but  has become a massively expensive project rivaling the cost of Boston’s Big Dig. The price tag is now estimated to exceed $20 billion. When the program was started, it was assumed natural gas would be being used in perpetuity. Now, given our state’s emissions mandate, that assumption is in question.

New gas infrastructure is normally paid off by gas customers over 60 years or more, meaning that our children and grandchildren will pay for this fossil fuel infrastructure whether or not they are using gas. According to the report, GSEP is now “on a course to generate unrecoverable costs, an outcome with the potential to create serious inequities for ratepayers.” 

The utilities instead could use that $20 billion to install HEET’s GeoGrid concept, a system of networked ground source heat pumps, to heat and cool buildings while meeting the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions mandate.

Learn more about HEET’s GeoGrid concept

Eversource Gas has received permission to pilot a GeoGrid demonstration next year in Massachusetts. National Grid has proposed its own demonstration projects in MA, and other proposals are moving forward in New York and Connecticut. 

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