Department of Public Utilities Lifts National Grid Moratorium
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities on Wednesday, December 19, substantially modified its order of October 8 that imposed a moratorium on National Grid from doing all but emergency and compliance gas work. The new order allows the company to resume customary non-emergency work, including installation of direct tap service lines and the installation and extension of both plastic and welded steel mains, provided the company adheres to strengthened safety standards. The DPU’s action will bring desperately needed relief to homebuilders and developers throughout the company’s service territory and is the result of two months of intense lobbying by the Home Builders And Remodelers Association of Massachusetts (HBRAMA).
National Grid must now obtain the review and approval of a certified professional engineer in advance of any work in their distribution territory. National Grid will also be required to impose stricter standards than those currently required for employee qualifications to ensure public safety, including requiring five years of experience for work on low pressure service lines, 10 years of experience for work on intermediate pressure service lines, and 15 years of experience for work on high pressure service lines. Strict reporting requirements and fines will be implemented to ensure public safety.
The HBRAMA appreciates the understanding exhibited by Matthew Beaton, Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Angela O’Connor, Commissioner of the Department of Public Utilities, to the plight of homebuilders during this difficult time. “We are particularly grateful to the help we received from Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, said HBRAMA Utilities Subcommittee Chairman, Mark Leff of Salem Five Bank. “Her understanding of the challenges of residential development, and particularly the plight of small builders, is unique within state government and we are indeed fortunate to have her assistance,” said Leff.
Notwithstanding the lifting of the moratorium, meaningful improvement in the wait for installations isn’t likely to occur until the dispute between National Grid and the 1,250 members of United Steelworkers Local 12003 and 12012-0 is settled. The HBRAMA will continue to urge the Department of Public Utilities to closely monitor how quickly National Grid addresses the backlog of requests for service by homebuilders. Members who have been affected by the National Grid moratorium should provide the association with information about the nature and location of their project, as well as the specific services they need, by emailing HBRAMA executive director Joe Landers at
. The Utilities Subcommittee will then forward a list of those requests to National Grid for priority attention.