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Court: Ratepayers can’t be asked to finance natural gas pipelines

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

There was no immediate comment from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, which pushed for the tariffs as a means of increasing the availability of natural gas to the region.

The justices said passing those costs on to ratepayers would violate the intent of laws previously passed by the Legislature.

 

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