New Eversource Methane Pipeline in Wilton Being Built with Ratepayer Subsidies
Rem Bigosinski, Sam Dynowski, & Martha Klein
Eversource is building a new fracked gas pipeline in Wilton, with little evidence that customers in that area are eager to power their homes with methane. Despite what Eversource is telling Wilton residents, new gas pipelines are bad for our economy, ecology, health and the climate. Join community members and Sierra Club Connecticut, and take action to stop the gas pipeline extension project that has started along New Canaan Road/Route 106.
This Eversource methane pipeline, which can legally be approved by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) without any environmental analysis of any kind, was brought to the Wilton Town Engineer and the Department of Public Works (DPW) in 2020. The community was not informed until April 13, 2022 and given only two weeks to respond. This limited community input on a critical decision will impact all our futures.
On June 3, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) ruled that ratepayers will no longer have to pay for future gas line extensions because it is bad for ratepayers. PURA found that as a result of gas expansion projects from 2014-2019, ratepayers in Connecticut have paid approximately $64 million in higher gas costs. Additionally, PURA fined Eversource $1.8 for false advertising; Attorney General William Tong also settled with Eversource for $1.8 million saying “Eversource misled homeowners to get them to switch to natural gas.” The Wilton project, started before this decision and the fines, is grandfathered in, but Wilton residents will pay for it with increased rates, worse air quality and death of trees, among numerous other adverse effects from methane.
There’s nothing natural about “natural gas,” a marketing term designed to mislead consumers. The principal ingredient is methane, a highly volatile chemical that is 100 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 10-year period. This form of methane is more concentrated than naturally occurring methane in wetlands. Methane is also explosive, causing an accident somewhere in the U.S. every few days, and notably in New York City and Merrimack Valley, MA, it destroyed homes and caused injuries and deaths. Leaking methane into the air and polluting water bodies and watercourses affect the health of ecosystems and our water supply. Direct exposure, such as from cooking on gas stoves, leads to fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and increases the severity of asthma and other respiratory diseases, with higher levels causing nausea, agitation, altered speech, asphyxiation and death. Methane is a fracked fossil fuel and is piped into Connecticut from fracking fields to our west, south, and from Canada, with profoundly damaging upstream effects.
The proposed Wilton route of the gas pipeline borders the South Norwalk Electric & Water (SNEW) Reservoir, servicing the Silvermine neighborhood of Wilton, and most of the City of Norwalk. About 2,000 linear feet of New Canaan Road borders the reservoir treatment facility, reservoir and earthen dam. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s time to move away from methane gas and towards readily available climate-friendly all-electric buildings, which use significantly less fossil fuels to power and can be connected to renewable energy when Connecticut finally builds some in the state. The first step is to stop new gas pipelines.
What can you do? 1) Don’t sign up to purchase gas from this costly and damaging pipeline; 2) Ask the Town of Wilton to stop new gas hookups; 3) Ask DEEP in its upcoming Comprehensive Energy Strategy to recommend an end to all gas pipeline expansion and instead create a plan for all-electric buildings. Send an email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more: Oppose the Wilton Fracked Gas Pipeline Extension!
Rem Bigosinski is a resident of Wilton and a Sierra Club member; Sam Dynowski is Sierra Club CT State Director; Martha Klein is lead volunteer of the chapter’s Beyond Gas campaign.