SECTION 1. Section 94A of chapter 164 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraphs:-
As part of any review of any contract with a term of more than one year for gas pipeline capacity or liquefied gas storage that requires the construction of new or expanded gas infrastructure, the department shall determine whether such contract is in the public interest. The department shall not approve such a contract unless, in its public interest determination, the department finds that:
(i) such contract is necessary and cost-effective for ratepayers;
(ii) such contract compares favorably to other reasonably available options in terms of its impact on rates, the economy, environment, climate, local communities, public health, safety and welfare;
(iii) the applicant has identified and evaluated alternatives that would reduce or eliminate the need for private land takings or public land disposition including, but not limited to, fuller and more long-term utilization of existing infrastructure, distribution system repairs, and enhancement of peak shaving measures; and
(iv) for contracts exceeding a term of 3 years, the applicant has reasonably evaluated demand-side options to reduce or eliminate the need for new infrastructure.
To aid in the department's public interest determination under this section, any gas company seeking department review of a contract that requires the construction or expansion of gas infrastructure shall first hold a competitive solicitation for non-gas alternatives. Such competitive solicitations shall seek energy solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that address the considerations enumerated in subpart (i) through (iv) above.
The department shall not approve any contract requiring a public interest determination under this section if the applicant is the subject of an ongoing National Transportation Safety Board investigation. If such an investigation opens after department approval of a contract but prior to construction of the infrastructure required to fulfill the contract, the order approving such contract shall be automatically vacated.
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