Court: Ratepayers Can’t be Asked to Finance Gas Pipelines

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BOSTON (AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts is blocking electric utilities from passing on to ratepayers the costs of building new natural gas pipelines.

The Supreme Judicial Court in its unanimous decision Wednesday said state regulators made a mistake in approving the tariffs and authorizing utilities to sign long-term contracts for natural gas generating capacity.

The justices said passing the costs on to ratepayers would violate the intent of state laws regulating electric companies.

The decision was cheered by environmental groups including the Conservation Law Foundation, which filed suit to stop what it dubbed a “pipeline tax” on consumers.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration backed the proposed tariffs as a means of increasing natural gas capacity. A spokesman for the state’s energy and environmental affairs office says the administration respects the ruling.

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