Is Natural Gas Available

Looking to convert to natural gas?

First check if natural gas is available in your County and community.

Berkshire County - If your home or business is located in one of the below Berkshire county towns that we serve, you can use our online Interested in Natural Gas form to be contacted by a Berkshire Gas Representative. They can tell you if natural gas is available on your street, and the next steps to bring natural gas to your home or business.

Franklin and Hampshire Counties - Due to pipeline deliverability constraints, there is currently a moratorium on any new natural gas services in the communities of Amherst, Deerfield, Greenfield, Hadley, Hatfield, Montague, Sunderland and Whately. Current natural gas customers will not be affected other than they will not be able to install additional natural gas appliances or equipment. More information about the moratorium is provided below.

 

Moratorium Overview

Berkshire Gas customers in Franklin and Hampshire Counties of Massachusetts are served by a pipeline that runs from the Tennessee Gas interstate delivery pipeline in Southwick, Massachusetts to Greenfield, where it ends. Over the last two decades, the demand for natural gas has increased dramatically, without any new pipeline capacity to deliver additional supplies to the region,and demand has therefore out-paced supply in the area.

While we are hopeful that a new pipeline project proposed by Tennessee Gas can provide the additional capacity needed in years to come, at this time we are very close to reaching full capacity. We are now in the difficult position of having to limit demand on our system and are unable to commit to delivering any volumes of natural gas beyond those currently used by its existing customers.

For this reason, Berkshire Gas in December of 2015, invoked a moratorium on any new natural gas service in the Hampshire County communities of Amherst, Hadley, Hatfield and Sunderland. A similar moratorium was declared in the communities of Deerfield, Greenfield, Montague and Whately in late 2014.

To be clear, inexpensive natural gas has never been more plentiful in the United States than it is today. It is the limited ability to deliver that natural gas to customers that presents today’s challenge. Current natural gas customers are unaffected by this moratorium. During the moratorium period however, customers cannot add any additional natural gas burning equipment to their current service.

A moratorium on any new natural gas service has been invoked for the following communities

  • Amherst
  • Deerfield
  • Greenfield
  • Hadley
  • Hatfield
  • Montague
  • Sunderland
  • Whately

Moratorium Background

Berkshire Gas is currently served by the Kinder Morgan owned Tennessee Gas interstate pipeline that runs across southern Massachusetts since it was first constructed in the mid-1950s. A lateral pipeline comes off of that interstate line in Southwick and runs up to Greenfield, where it ends. Franklin and Hampshire Counties are served from that lateral pipeline. That lateral pipeline is operating at full capacity, which has necessitated our moratorium on any additional service. Kinder Morgan indicates that their interstate pipeline is also operating at, or near capacity, but Berkshire Gas does not want to make any representation on their behalf and will leave it to them to make any comments in that regard. Their pipeline project is in fact THEIR project, not Berkshire’s, which is why the Company has not engaged in the local fray over this project. Berkshire Gas is simply a customer of Kinder Morgan.

Further to that, the only interstate pipeline in the Berkshire Gas service territory is the Kinder Morgan/Tennessee pipeline, so the Company’s ability to serve is directly related to what they do. Most of the other natural gas utilities in Massachusetts, if not all, have multiple interstate pipelines in their service territories and, as such, have more options and flexibility available to them.

Kinder Morgan has proposed running a new interstate line across the northern part of Massachusetts, which would connect with the existing lateral pipeline in the Greenfield/Deerfield area. This would provide substantial additional capacity to Berkshire Gas and allow the Company to once again support residential and economic development in the region.

In response to a common question, yes, Berkshire Gas has signed a contract with Kinder Morgan to take capacity from the proposed line, as have 11 other natural gas utilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The amount of misinformation in the region is dismaying, especially reports stating that there will be no local benefit, since this is clearly not true.

If the line is built, the additional capacity that it would provide would allow Berkshire Gas to lift the moratorium and provide additional service. At that time, the Company would also look at the possibility of extending natural gas service into areas, and perhaps communities, that are not currently served.

Moratorium FAQs

The moratorium is based on the need for additional gas supply resources to serve Eastern Division communities. The moratorium will remain in place until those resources can be made available.

Service to existing customers will continue in a safe and reliable manner without interruption. New or additional service will not be offered until additional natural gas supply resources become available.

At the conclusion of the 2013/2014 heating season, the Company conducted a winter operations review and supply analysis to assess remaining available capacity on the lateral pipeline serving the Company’s Eastern Division. This review allowed us to assess actual demand against system capacity. Only after this review was completed, was the Company in a position to determine when the moratorium would be necessary. The Company first started making local elected officials aware of the pending moratorium in mid-2014.

  • If I have an inactive service line, can it be activated? Yes, if you have used the service line since November 1, 2014, it may be reactivated. If the service line or a gas meter was shut off prior to November 1, 2014, it cannot be reactivated. The natural gas demand for that location has been committed to other customers and is no longer available for use at your location. If the gas service is eligible for reactivation, the connected gas equipment cannot exceed the load that was previously used at the location. If you have questions about your eligibility for service, connected loads or gas usage, please contact Gabe Josephs at 413.445.0211.
  • If I already have a meter, why can’t I add more load? The presence of a meter has no bearing on the availability of natural gas at your location. Natural gas availability for your location has been allocated based on your historical usage. Due to the moratorium, no additional volumes of natural gas are available for expanding usage beyond what you are currently using. Once the moratorium is lifted, we will be happy to work with you to assess the availability of additional natural gas for your use. Adding load without authorization may jeopardize your gas service.
  • I recently bought a property that has a gas service. When I called to setup my account I was told it couldn’t be re-activated. Why? You cannot assume that you will be guaranteed a gas account just because there is a gas service line and/or a gas meter at that location. Before buying a property, you should contact Gabe Josephs at Berkshire Gas at 413.445.0211 to find out if the service line can be transferred or whether your request is within the reactivation period.
  • Are there any exemptions or exceptions to the moratorium? No. A moratorium has been invoked across the board in the Company’s Eastern Division. This means that no additional volumes of natural gas (new or incremental) are available at any location, for any purpose regardless of the need or merits.
  • If I currently have gas, is my service in jeopardy? No, safe and reliable service is assured for our existing customers. In fact, the moratorium was declared in order to ensure the continuing reliability of service to our existing customers. You may not add to your existing service however during the moratorium
  • If I already use gas for heating, why can’t I add a gas stove or dryer? The pipeline serving Franklin and Hampshire Counties is operating at, or near, full capacity. As such, we cannot add any additional demand or usage on our distribution system. The natural gas needed for your current heating purposes has been allocated and is available for your continued use, regardless of the moratorium.
  • Can I install a natural gas fueled generator during the moratorium? No, generators cannot be installed during the moratorium.
  • If I install a natural gas fueled generator, it will only run when there is a power outage. Why wouldn’t this be approved? Due to severely constrained deliverability in Franklin and Hampshire Counties, we are unable to commit to delivering any volumes of natural gas beyond those currently used by our existing customers. While backup generators may in fact operate during a period of reduced demand, there are any number of circumstances during which they could come online during a period of normal, or even peak demand. That is a risk to our customers that we quite simply cannot take.
  • Can I replace my old gas furnace with a new furnace? Yes, as long as the load (input BTU’s) is the same as, or less than, the current load. Please contact the Berkshire Gas Energy Efficiency Department at 800.944.3212 to discuss your plans, as they may be able to assist you with this and potentially provide some financial incentive for updating your equipment.
  • My plumber pulled a permit to install a new gas appliance; didn’t they contact you to let you know that I will be using more gas soon? Plumbers are only required by regulation to notify Berkshire Gas for large capacity load additions. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to notify Berkshire Gas of any intended new equipment.
  • Why does a system evaluation need to be done before I can add equipment to my existing gas service? System evaluations are performed to assess the ability to provide the necessary pressure and volumes at a specific location for a specific load demand. During the moratorium, no equipment can be added due to pipeline constraints.
  • What could happen if I had new gas burning equipment installed without approval? If new natural gas burning equipment is installed during the moratorium, your natural gas service could be subject to outage or interruption if our distribution system pressures prove to be insufficient to meet the added demand. Unauthorized load increases are found through the automated meter reading system. Installing new equipment without a permit will result in a red tag of the equipment and a notification to the local inspection department. Plumbers or gas fitters performing work without a permit are subject to fines, penalties and sanctions by the Massachusetts Plumbing and Gas Board.
  • Can I replace an old tank type water heater with a new on-demand water heater? No, despite the overall reduction in natural gas used by on demand water heaters, the demand surge of an on-demand water heater at start up is 400% greater than that of a tank type water heater. Such a surge could negatively impact pressures on our distribution system and cause an outage or service interruption.
  • If I have my stove disconnected, can I install a new furnace? No, the volumes of natural gas used for home heating are typically significantly greater than those for cooking. We will only consider swapping an appliance for another “like” appliance.
  • I want to install a gas fireplace and will only use it on occasion. Will that be approved? No. By necessity a moratorium on new or added natural gas use is an “across the board” moratorium.
  • Can I install propane for heating if I use natural gas for cooking? Yes, this is possible with the required approvals. Your plumber will need to file for a gas permit. Along with that permit, you will need a letter of permission from Berkshire Gas AND your local propane supplier. Please contact Gabe Josephs, Supervisor of Gas Field Operations at 413.445.0211 for a dual fuel permission letter from Berkshire Gas.
  • If a tenant moves out and shuts off their gas meter, can it be turned back on for a new tenant? This can only occur if the location has been in service at some point since November 1, 2014.
  • If I spoke with someone at BGC in the past, how come I now cannot get my gas, or any additional gas if I already have a service? The availability of natural gas is based on your having an active meter/service prior to November 1, 2014. If a service has been inactive for more than 5 years, or 10 years if the service is plastic, it will be retired per Massachusetts regulation (220 CMR 107.05).
  • What is Berkshire Gas doing to lift the moratorium? Berkshire Gas continues to diligently assess all practical options for resolving the moratorium and hopes to conclude this study during the current calendar year.

Rev. 6/28/17

 

 

 

List of Towns We Serve

  • Adams
  • Cheshire
  • Clarksburg
  • Dalton
  • Great Barrington
  • Lanesborough
  • Lee
  • Lenox
  • North Adams
  • Pittsfield
  • Stockbridge
  • Williamstown

Due to pipeline deliverability constraints, there is currently a moratorium on any new natural gas services in these communities:

  • Deerfield
  • Greenfield
  • Montague
  • Sunderland
  • Whately

Due to pipeline deliverability constraints, there is currently a moratorium on any new natural gas services in these communities:

  • Amherst
  • Hadley
  • Hatfield

FAQs

  • With oil price fluctuations recently, how much will I really save when converting to natural gas?  
  • Shouldn’t I consider equipment efficiency and not just price over the longer term?  
  • How would storms such as Sandy that cut electricity to millions in the Northeast affect me as a natural gas customer?  
  • What else should I know about converting to natural gas?  
  • If I already have a meter, why can’t I add more load?  
  • If I already use gas for heating, why can’t I add a gas stove or dryer?  
  • How long will the moratorium be in effect?  
  • I recently bought a property that has a gas service. When I called to setup my account I was told it couldn’t be re-activated. Why?