The chair of the state’s Public Utilities Commission said Thursday that a statewide ban on new gas hookups could be necessary to meet the state’s mandatory target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

A wide-ranging discussion followed about the many challenges and conundrums facing the commission in the so-called “Future of Gas” docket. Regulators opened the investigation in response to the passage of the state Act on Climate, which includes a mandate to zero out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Ben Butterworth, director of climate, energy and equity analysis at the Acadia Center, said in response that the commission must prioritize safety above all else first, but could perhaps investigate ways to repair pipes rather than replace them. That would reduce costs and the time period over which the utility is spreading those costs.

“That’s why it’s essential to determine a plan as soon as possible for the future vision of the gas system,” Butterworth said. “It might make sense to do it on a case-by-case basis.”

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