Provision requires standards for gas companies to identify, measure, and report leaked gas
In a win for fixing gas leaks and for the Commonwealth’s clean energy future, State Representative Christine Barber of Somerville and Medford successfully secured a provision in the legislature’s recent clean energy legislation that defines lost and unaccounted for (LAUF) gas—the gas that consumers pay for, but is leaked unburned into the atmosphere from old pipes—and requires the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to issue uniform standards for gas companies to identify, measure, and report amounts of leaked gas.
Earlier in the legislative session, Rep. Barber introduced H.2683, An Act protecting consumers of gas and electricity from paying for leaked and unaccounted for gas, to prohibit gas companies from passing any cost of lost and unaccounted for gas onto consumers. When that bill was met with opposition, Rep. Barber worked throughout the legislative session with activists including Mothers Out Front, the Gas Leaks Allies, and Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) to gather consensus and build support amongst activists, researchers and utilities for a compromise that aims to incentivize gas companies to identify and repair leaks promptly. This compromise language, which Rep. Barber filed as an amendment during the House’s debate of clean energy legislation, was ultimately included in the comprehensive clean energy bill adopted by the House and Senate on the last day of the legislative session. The amendment requires gas companies to report gas leaks by location, quantity and source, and offers gas companies flexibility to create innovative projects to reduce emissions.
“There has been so much awareness raised about the harm caused by gas leaks over the past few years, and this is an important next step for policy to fix gas leaks more quickly,” said Rep. Barber. “These new rules will bring activists, researchers, and industry together to find common solutions to fix leaks in our system, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering costs for ratepayers.”
“We are so grateful for Rep. Barber’s leadership. This is a key next step in our ongoing effort to address the system challenge of gas leaks,” said Ania Camargo on behalf of the Gas Leaks Allies. “This bill increases transparency, untangling annual reporting to allow us to identify sources and locations of gas lost in the system. Natural gas is mostly methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and reducing leaks in an efficient way reduces cost to consumers while protecting our children’s future.”
In addition to gas leaks reporting, H.4857, An Act to advance clean energy, also allows for the procurement of 1600 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, doubles the Commonwealth’s renewable portfolio standard until 2029, creates a first-in-the-nation clean peak standard to make renewable energy available during the most expensive and peak hours of electricity use, and establishes restrictions on minimum electricity demand charges.