Eversource gas pipeline plan hits snag

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A state Land Court judge ruled that Eversource must remove a decommissioned gas pipeline if its project to install a new, larger pipeline through Hopkinton and Ashland moves forward.

Associate Justice Michael D. Vhay’s July 20 ruling is a victory for Ashland, where town officials and many residents are against the project entirely. Hopkinton, conversely, has not expressed opposition to the plan, which would replace a 6-inch-wide underground gas line with a new 12-inch pipe. The line runs for 3.7 miles, of which 2.5 miles are in Ashland.

Eversource had hoped to leave the old pipeline in the ground, noting it would save time and money and be less of an inconvenience to residents. The company has said the project is needed to fix a pressure drop problem and allow it to accommodate new customers in the Framingham area.

The multiyear project had been scheduled to start in Hopkinton last year but is not yet underway.

“We are still reviewing the court’s decision and are evaluating our next steps,” Eversource media relations manager Reid Lamberty stated via email. “In Hopkinton, all local permits have been received with the exception of one street opening permit, which we are still working to obtain. Construction in Hopkinton has not started. We are waiting to receive approval from the Energy Facilities Siting Board.”

Eversource has 30 days from the ruling to file an appeal. There are other legal issues pending as well, including Eversource’s appeal of the Ashland Conservation Commission’s decision to deny the utility’s notice of intent and storm water management applications.

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