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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More Ammunition Against Natural Gas Proposal In Governor Malloy's Energy Plan

With public hearings on Gov. Dannel Malloy's comprehensive energy plan going on this week, home heating oil dealers are fighting hard to overturn the portion of it that focuses on natural gas.

The Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association has hired an outside public relations person - former Fox 61 Reporter Shelly Sindland - to help make its case.Cromwell-based ICPA is also rallying its members to turn out for the hearings.

The centerpiece of Malloy's plan, which was unveiled in October, is to spend $2.2 billion to expand the natural gas distribution network in order to add more than 250,000 households as customers. And that's what home heating oil dealers object to, saying it gives the state's three natural gas utilities an unfair advantage.

During Monday's hearing at New Haven's Hall of Records, several home heating oil dealers spoke of the  potential for explosions that natural gas has compared to the fuel they sell. That strategy is only likely to increase with news of  Tuesday's release of a Boston University study that found more than 3,300 leaks in the city's underground natural gas pipeline.

To be fair, natural gas utilities contend that explosions from the fuel are relatively rare. But according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), between 2005 and 2009 there were 282 "significant incidents" involving pipelines in the United States, including 51 injuries and 14 fatalities.

The PHMSA classifies a "significant incident" as one that results in death or injury that requires hospitalization, that costs more than $50,000, results in a release of five barrels or more of volatile liquid or 50 barrels of other liquid or a release resulting in unintentional fire or explosion.

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