Thursday, December 20, 2018

In the News: MA DPU lifts moratorium on NationalGrid; relief for locked-out workers sought

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"State regulators on Wednesday lifted their moratorium on National Grid gas work, infuriating locked-out gas workers, but ordered the utility to adhere to what officials called “an unprecedentedly high standard,” including a new requirement to have work plans approved by a certified professional engineer. 
The order from the Department of Public Utilities would essentially apply the parameters of Gov. Charlie Baker’s gas safety bill and other new safety protocols to National Grid while also easing the moratorium on all non-emergency and non-compliance work across the utility’s service territory, an administration official said. 
Commercial real estate industry officials have said the moratorium was having a “huge impact” by preventing properties from obtaining needed gas hookups."

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"Unable since Nov. 1 to shake his popular bill out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Mark Montigny on Tuesday has taken his case directly to Senate President Karen Spilka, urging her to help advance legislation ensuring benefits to workers locked out by their employers. 
A New Bedford Democrat, Montigny asked Spilka in a letter Tuesday to force action on a bill providing extended unemployment benefits to locked-out workers, such as the more than 1,200 gas workers who have been engaged in a labor dispute with National Grid since June. Gas workers lost their health insurance and paychecks and have turned to public insurance programs and unemployment benefits to get by during the lockout. 
Montigny said the Senate should pass a bill expanding the scope of a House bill approved Dec. 6 and correcting a portion of the House bill."

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"The state Department of Public Utilities on Wednesday lifted a moratorium on gas work by National Grid, but a series of new regulations means it’s unlikely development projects that have been stalled for months will be able to resume any time soon. 
Quincy is one of a handful of cities and towns that imposed its own local moratorium on all non-emergency gas work by National Grid after the company locked out 1,200 workers in June when contract negotiations broke down. It’s also a city in the midst of a massive development boom that is suffering as developers wait to finish projects that require gas connections. 
The state followed suit with its own moratorium on Oct. 8 after state regulators were spooked by an incident in Woburn in which gas lines were over-pressurized. A series of explosions in the Merrimack Valley a month earlier were also blamed on excessive pressure."

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