One of the people most responsible for permitting the consolidation of the former Haverhill Gas Co./Essex County Gas Co. is now part of a group favoring a fracked gas pipeline in the valley, a WHAV investigation reveals.
Former Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Eugene J. Sullivan Jr. is listed as a member of The Coalition to Lower Energy Costs Inc., a new group promoting “new pipeline capacity, including one new pipeline from western Massachusetts to Dracut,” according to the group’s website. As DPU commissioner, Sullivan voted to approve Boston Gas Co.’s $80.5 million purchase of Essex County Gas Co., then based in Amesbury, in 1998.
A group called No Fracked Gas in Mass. describes the pipeline as a “high-pressure, high-capacity line of fracked natural gas from the Marcellus shale fields in Pennsylvania and New York to a central hub in Dracut.” The line would pass through Andover. Kinder Morgan and its subsidiary Tennessee Gas will present plans to Andover residents Feb. 17, at Wyndham Hotel; 123 Old River Rd., Andover.
Sullivan is not the only former DPU commissioner involved in the group supporting fracked gas. Dr.
Barbara Kates-Garnick, who recently held a job as undersecretary of energy in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration, is a senior advisor, according to the group’s website. Kates-Garnick also worked as vice president of government affairs for Boston Gas after the Essex County Gas Co. merger.
The Coalition to Lower Energy Costs, formed last October, is operated by lobbyists Alfred A. Minahan, president; Dustin D. Brooks, treasurer; and John F. Hahesy, director, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office. All are, or were formerly, associated with Minahan’s Preti Minahan Strategies of Boston.
“The coalition advocates for the new infrastructure we need to give all of us access to an adequate natural gas supply and lower our energy cost. This will require substantial new pipeline capacity, including one new pipeline from western Massachusetts to Dracut,” according to the group’s website.
Lobbyist also Represents Separate Company Associated with Program at UMass Lowell
Minahan and Hahesy also represent such groups as Mass. Railroad Association and Avaya Inc. (telephone systems). Brooks was listed by the state of Maine as representing American Express Travel Related Services, American Financial Services Association, American Insurance Association, Associated General Contractors of Maine, Maine Turnpike Authority, Northern New England Telephone Operations, LLC and accounting firm Abitus, Inc.
Abitus reports on its website, it “Joined hands with University of Massachusetts at Lowell and launched the MBA program.” Christine M. Gillette, UMass-Lowell’s director of media relations, said this morning the university has “more than 100 international partnerships around the world.” The MBA program referenced by Abitus helps the school “connect with students in Japan who would like to enroll in our MBA program.” She said there were nine students in the program in 2012.
Although the same lobbyist represented both groups, there is no connection between gas fracking proponents and UMass Lowell.
No Fracked Gas in Mass. says its immediate mission is “To stop the Kinder Morgan/TGP pipelines (Northeast Energy Direct and Connecticut Expansion) and help other regional communities fight similar pipeline expansion.” Its broader mission, according to its website is, “To stop the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in New England and upstate NY and to promote expanded efficiency and sustainable, renewable sources of energy and local, permanent jobs in a clean energy economy.”
On Dec. 22, 1997, Eastern Enterprises, parent of Boston Gas, and Essex County Gas Company announced their merger. Boston Gas later merged with Keyspan, which merged with London-based National Grid. J. Atwood Ives, Eastern chairman and chief executive officer, said then natural gas rates would go down.
“The acquisition of Essex County Gas by Eastern will create opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies through the integration of their operations with those of Boston Gas,” he said at the time.
Essex County Gas Company, which began as the Haverhill Gas-Light Co. in 1853, served more than 42,000 customers in 17 cities and towns.