Liberty Utilities asks PUC OK for a 20-year natural gas contract

Tennessee gas pipeline deal would increase supply by up to 25%

Liberty Utilities argued Wednesday before the Public Utilities Commission to bring more natural gas to New Hampshire.

At stake is a proposed 20-year contract between Liberty Utilities and the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which would bring 40,000 decatherms of natural gas per day to the state, an increase of 20 to 25% of the current capacity of the business.

The Conservation Law Foundation opposes the plan, arguing Liberty has not considered lower-cost alternatives.

The contract must be approved by the PUC before it can be finalized. The Tennessee Gas Pipeline plan follows a few other unsuccessful proposals by Liberty to source more natural gas, a move the company says is necessary to meet customer demand and ensure reliability. Projects Liberty has previously put forward but subsequently scrapped include the Northeast Energy Direct and Granite Bridge pipelines. These two projects were much larger and more expensive than the deal with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which would not require new construction but would involve repairs and upgrades to existing infrastructure totaling $ 45 million.

Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Liberty reached a settlement agreement with the Office of the Consumer Advocate and the New Hampshire Department of Energy on September 24, which resolves any issues the three parties may have had with the project.

During the hearing, Liberty called two of the company’s employees to testify about their role in preparing the deal with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, including Liberty attorney Michael Sheehan, who called the pipeline excellent solution to increase natural gas capacity at a lower cost.

The Conservation Law Foundation called a witness, David Hill, a management consultant for a Vermont-based clean energy consultancy group called Energy Futures Group Inc. Hill said Liberty had not considered alternatives that could reduce the need for natural gas, for energy efficiency or electrification. Hill also said Liberty did not analyze the environmental impacts of pipeline updates as required by New Hampshire law.

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