Selectmen support bill that would stop people paying for leaking gas

By Lydia Goerner | Aug 29, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Selectman Alan Slavin describes the problems with the way individuals are currently charged for leaking gas.

A bill that would stop companies from charging customers for leaked natural gas has the support of the Board of the Selectmen.

On Tuesday, Selectmen voted unanimously to send a letter in support of the bill. If passed, it would allow people to save money by preventing companies from billing customers for leaks and unaccounted for gas.

When there are gas leaks on public streets, gas companies typically do not repair these immediately, instead waiting until they get bad enough to be a serious problem, said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan. Individuals who use gas in their homes pay for this leaked gas.

The letter writing campaign in support of two bills to stop this began in Wayland. Chair Peter Teitelbaum will join other Massachusetts towns in writing a letter to the state house on behalf of the Board of Selectmen in support of the bills, H. 2683/S. 1845, to stop companies from charging for wasted gas.

According to the original letter from Wayland, by mid-2016, 37 towns and cities in Massachusetts passed resolutions in favor of the statewide gas leak bills. Hearings on the bills are expected to take place this fall.

Selectman Alan Slavin said leaking gas is a “common problem throughout Wareham.”

According to Home Energy Efficiency Team, Wareham had seven unrepaired gas leaks on public streets and eight repaired ones as of 2016.

Slavin said this measure could be an incentive for gas companies to fix problems quickly instead of ignoring them until they grow, because gas companies will have to pay for the leaking gas.

Sullivan pointed out this could stop roads from being “ripped up every few years because they decide the road is bad enough” to fix.

Comments (7)
Posted by: tesnobeach | Aug 30, 2017 08:25

Confused resident here... why would we need to pay for leaking gas and why would even have to be a bill for that ?!?!?

Posted by: barnstorm | Aug 30, 2017 08:51

More BS from the BOS. Let the hacks on Beacon Hill deal with the gas leak conspiracy. Wareham has greater problems to solve locally. And for you, Alan Slavin, enough already. Time to step down and stay at home.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 30, 2017 13:56

Seeing as this matter involves 37 other towns and cities, I assume it's valid and therefore I give the town & BOS the benefit of my doubt. Otherwise the whole concept seems a little funny.  I probably should educate myself on this topic before I say too much. Until then, I'll just say a little. Here goes:


The first two things that came to my mind are safety and natural gas billing.


Safety: With all the horrific natural gas explosions that happen fairly often, I have a hard time accepting that any gas is allowed to leak.  It can travel through the ground, collect somewhere, and possibly end up in a basement or other underground void. Not to mention if the "small" leak suddenly turns into a big leak.


Billing: Gas leaking under the street is upstream of the residential meters. How can the residential consumer be billed for that?  Natural gas is a commodity with a simple rate. Right now the rate is about $1.20 per therm. If 10 therms passes through my meter, I get billed $12.00.  It is that simple.  I do not understand how they can bill me for the leaked gas. Unless the utility (Eversource & National Grid) raise the rate to cover the leakage?


Someone enlighten me please.




Posted by: sadie | Aug 30, 2017 17:23

This is an article from the globe but it doesn't explain how you get charged.

"According to a study released in 2013 by the office of Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, the state's gas customers paid between $640 million and $1.5 billion from 2000–2011 for gas that never reached their homes and businesses."

Posted by: jjjjjj | Aug 30, 2017 20:03

Short answer is that we as customers all pay for gas that is "Lost and Unaccounted For" (LAUF) in the form of higher rates.


Here's a short read - available from the Mass Dept of Public Utilities website.

Posted by: bob | Aug 30, 2017 21:04

SADIE,According to Sen. Markey, he said that our utility  bills Cable,Electric,Gas etc. would be cheaper with deregulation..So I wouldn't take what he says ...He just a career politician...

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 31, 2017 11:17

Thanks for the links.  That's what I thought.  They included it in the rate. It's hard to differentiate those kinds of buried costs so I wonder how this is going to work.  It happens with everything.  The price of apples at Shaws includes the cost of the ones that rot and don't sell.  The price a carpenter charges to build a deck includes the cost of his mistakes and mis-cuts.  It's how business operate and cover costs.  The privatized gas companies are businesses.

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