There is great uncertainty in Massachusetts’ path to decarbonization, and two conflicting visions are emerging for the future of the state’s gas system. Central to the conflict are questions over the role of alternative gases in the transition to clean energy, as well as the future of the gas industry as a whole. And as invisible as the gas is itself, some of the industry’s influence on the energy transition has been hidden from view, as underscored by emails released this week by a watchdog group.

As gas utilities and advocates debate the future of the gas system, state regulators have deferred to the utilities to construct the initial plans for decarbonization. In a variety of avenues throughout the state, utilities have used their influence to promote their preferred decarbonization options, often out of the public eye. Environmentalists argue this is putting the state’s climate goals in jeopardy.

“Is a gas utility going to plan against its best interests for the sake of the Commonwealth’s decarbonization goals, or for the sake of ratepayers in the Commonwealth?” asked Kyle Murray, a senior policy advocate at the Acadia Center, a nonprofit that focuses on climate and energy policy. “I’m not sure that’s even fair to them, as they have shareholders that they need to deliver a profit to. So there’s a fundamental problem with who draws up the plans.”

Read the full article in Inside Climate News here.