February – National Grid Update

by Tony Shepley,

National Grid, the Cape’s only natural gas supplier, has started to communicate its plans to address the Mid Cape gas supply line which has suffered a number of age related issues leading to a moratorium on new gas service hook ups from the Mid Cape to the Lower Cape. The aging infrastructure has not been updated to meet additional demands or current supply needs. National Grid had boosted the gas pressure in the main to 125 psi, from the normal 100 psi, in order to force more gas through lines which proved undersized for today’s demands. It brings to mind the image of the python who swallows the pig…..something’s got to give.  What ended up failing were welds in the gas main which apparently led to quite a few gas leaks.

Your Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod (HBRACC)  has been pushing National Grid on this issue as well as serious builder concerns about the amount of time it takes to get service disconnects and service hook ups. The HBRACC Board of Directors has arranged meetings with National Grid officials and our state representatives and senators. The initial meetings were frustrating and difficult. With National Grid bringing as many as 8 of their own, they were clearly there to play defense, not to solve anything. We pointed out that their phone and e-mail systems were actually set up to defeat any form of human contact and we got them to acknowledge that. They have worked on opening up better communication. Here, after all is a business with a monopoly on the area’s natural gas supply. We further pointed out that they have abused that monopoly by not keeping their infrastructure current and by not responding reasonably to service requests and that their poor planning and poor service have created increased risks for the public.

Thanks to pressure from legislators and the HBRACC, National Grid has finally begun acting and communicating. You can learn more about the supply situation and the schedule for a return to normal gas service at ngrid.com/midcape or you can call 800-235-0955 (now they will actually answer or call you back!). Construction of replacement mains is scheduled to commence in 2017 and finish in 2019.

The bottom line is that utilities, towns, legislators, and counties don’t take the time to listen to individuals. With a collective voice like that of the HBRACC, we give ourselves the opportunity to be heard. Without the power of that collective voice, we are little more than a faint whisper and we get lost in the background noise.

For more evidence of the power of that voice, please see Liz Kovach’s announcement in this issue about change to wind borne debris and opening protection requirements in the Mass Building Code as a result of HBRACC lobbying. (see article on page 4)

Last month, I wrote about how important we feel your local Home Builders Association is and I am bringing this up again to remind and encourage you to join. Whether it’s the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod or the Nantucket Builders Association, we want to help drive membership, your involvement and association effectiveness.

To review, you can bill your membership or membership renewal through your Shepley credit account in three monthly payments (no interest). If you are joining for the first time, we’ll credit $100 off your first year’s membership. For about 1/3 of what you pay to insure one vehicle, you can insure your industry’s future through your membership. Remember, if we’re not involved, the opposition will be. United, we stand a whole lot taller!

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