Berkshire Gas doesn't have to like Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's skepticism about the proposed Tennessee Gas pipeline project but it shouldn't try to bill customers for its unhappiness.
The company has asked the state Department of Public Utilities for permission to pass on costs connected to an appeal by the attorney general of the proposed pipeline agreement to its customers (Berkshire Eagle, December 30.) As part of its recent acquisition by a new subsidiary of the Spanish energy corporation Iberdola, Berkshire Gas has been barred from raising its rates for 2 1/2 years.
Berkshire Gas, which is an $80 million investor in the pipeline project, has adopted an aggressive stance toward it. Earlier this year, a company spokesman accused pipeline opponents of "eco-terrorism" during a speech before the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. Berkshire Gas has a vested interest in the project and has a right to advocate for it, but disparaging opponents who have reasonable objections and genuine concerns, and attempting to bill customers because Ms. Healey is doing her due diligence, are unacceptable.
Tennessee Gas, a subsidiary of Kinder-Morgan, doesn't agree with the attorney general's report questioning the need for the pipeline and warning of its environmental and economic impact (Eagle, December 30.) That too, is its right, although the attorney general is more likely to be an objective analyst than are Tennessee Gas and Kinder-Morgan, which have potential profits at stake. Ms. Healey has the broader interest of the state in mind, and we urge the DPU to reject Berkshire Gas's attempt to penalize customers for any actions her office takes or may take in protecting those interests.