Massachusetts residents get to “freeze in the dark” for “social justice”!

Guest ridicule by David Middleton

From the folks who brought us the #ExxonKnew fraud…

Nearly 9,000 households in eastern Massachusetts have had to make do without natural gas since mid-September, when an aging natural gas pipeline failed and set off a series of explosions and fires across the cities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Residents who relied on gas to heat their homes and cook their food won’t have service again until mid-November at the earliest, according to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. The company has 48 miles of pipeline to replace, and industry experts question whether it can meet even that timeline.

Environmental advocates say it’s time to completely rethink the communities’ energy systems.

[…]

Columbia Gas has offered to reimburse “reasonable costs” for residents who lost gas service and want to permanently shift to another heating source.

[…]

But environmentalists will have to work quickly. Columbia’s offer to pay residents to cut ties with natural gas could also result in households moving backward—to high-polluting fuel oil.

[…]

The Possibility of Heat Pumps

Columbia Gas’s offer opens the door for a number of options with emissions profiles that vary widely, including heat pumps, conventional electric heating, propane and fuel oil. Residents, or their landlords, also could decide to wait through increasingly cold weeks for the gas line to be rebuilt.

One option Phillips and others sustainable development advocates are promoting is electric heat pumps—essentially air conditioners that can run in reverse in wintertime to heat rather than cool a home.

[…]

Eldrenkamp said the best solution for affected communities, especially Lawrence, a low-income community, would be to combine heat pumps with community-owned solar arrays paired with large-scale batteries.

“Let’s take this opportunity to really bring these homes into the 21st century, not just for environmental reasons but for social justice reasons,” Eldrenkamp said. “Let’s not just switch them over to heat pumps, but let’s get some solar panels in the neighborhoods and do the whole package.”

[…]

Phil McKenna is a Boston-based reporter for InsideClimate News. Before joining ICN in 2016, he was a freelance writer covering energy and the environment for publications including The New York Times, Smithsonian, Audubon and WIRED. Uprising, a story he wrote about gas leaks under U.S. cities, won the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award and the 2014 NASW Science in Society Award. Phil has a master’s degree in science writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was an Environmental Journalism Fellow at Middlebury College.

Inside Climate News

From the Inside Climate News article…

“Heat pumps, however, are typically more expensive to operate than furnaces or boilers that run on natural gas due to the current glut of low-cost, hydraulically fractured natural gas…” Can you spot the “no brainer” here?

In addition to costing nearly twice as much as natural gas…

The reason that heat pumps aren’t very effective in climates where the air temperature dips close to freezing on a regular basis is because it takes a lot more energy to move heat from a very cold area to a hotter one. It’s much easier to move heat between places with a minimal temperature difference. Plus, in moderate climates there’s more heat outside to bring in. When it’s cold out, it’s harder to extract the heat from the air. If the heat pump can’t get enough heat from the outside air to warm your house, you have to use supplemental energy in order to get your house to a comfortable temperature. This supplemental heating can be electrical, or it can burn oil or gas. The type of heating used most in your area is probably your best bet for a backup.

How Stuff Works

If the State of Massachusetts wants to p!$$ their taxpayers’ money away on “social justice” unicorn-fantasy energy schemes, the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution empowers them to do so… Just don’t ask the rest of the nation to follow their lead or foot the bill… The Tenth Amendment works both ways.

Electricity prices in Massachusetts are already among the highest in the nation…

Massachusetts isn’t exactly the best place to rely on solar power in winter…

http://www.windsolarenergy.org/best-regions-for-solar-power.htm

Massachusetts already isn’t the model to follow as it pertains to energy.  The lame-brained ideas put forward in the Inside Climate News article would make it even more so.

 

 

 

 

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158 thoughts on “Massachusetts residents get to “freeze in the dark” for “social justice”!

  1. Perhaps the local gas company should be calling in more subcontractors to install new lines and residential service hookups. Lots of companies out here who are highly experienced in “laying pipe”, and Polyethylene gas piping is definitely the way to go.

    • They are already doing this. Columbia Gas was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disruption and utilities from all the surrounding states have sent crews to help. They have to replace 74 miles of gas main and possibly piping to some residences. Over 100 businesses, including restaurants, have no gas service.

      I live in the community but in an unaffected part of town. There are crews in many locations on the main roads digging up and replacing piping. Restoration will roll out slowly as the main is replaced. Everything expected to be done and back on line by November 19. But we it can certainly go below freezing by then. Lowest overnight temperature so far this fall has been in the mid 40’s. The gas company is giving out electric heaters but they require an electrical inspection to see if your service will support it. Some of my friends are getting wood burning stoves and inserts for their fireplaces.

      I’m told that the cause was that high pressure gas was somehow routed into a lower pressure line (100 years old) and passed on to homes and businesses whose meters could not handle it, causing leaks which led to fires. NTSB is investigating and will publish a report. Lawsuits galore have been filed against the gas Company. Not sure if they will survive this without declaring bankruptcy.

      • Did Columbia Gas have a maintenance and replacement schedule? Keeping 100-year old pipe in service seems pretty careless.

        • Low pressure lines are likely cast iron, which eventually leak like sieves. Cast iron will not handle high, or even medium pressure. Run PE through the cast iron mains, and replace the service lines to buildings.

          If the mains are unprotected steel, a lot of digging will be necessary for upgrading to medium pressure distribution.

      • It was 6 psi routed to home service rated for O.5 psi, that will do it.

        Not the aging system, some awful mistake by some gas controller.

        Fall is here, winter is coming, we will see if this gas company could possible survive.

        Failure has consequences….

        • >It was 6 psi routed to home service rated for O.5 psi,

          When I saw the news, my first thought was that high pressure gas was routed into a low pressure system. However, that last time I worked on home gas lines, the code called for pressure testing at 10 psi. My guess is that the incorrect pressure was a lot higher that 6 psi.

          • There may well be CYA going on with claiming the spike below test pressure but then it may well have been below test pressure. Old, weakened pipe need not require going above test pressure to rupture.

            The biggest issue here is lack of maintenance replacing of older piping. I’m no fan of over regulation but there are areas where there’s a serious lack of regulation. We should not be relying on 100 year old infrastructure to deliver public utilities but we regularly do.

        • Sounds to me like homeowners and businesses in the area are getting lots of questionable advice.

          Reality is that the only conversion with low up front costs is to Propane if the furnace, stove, whatever can be converted. Some can, some can’t. But Propane is much more expensive than Natural gas per BTU.

          Conversion to fuel oil is going to require a new furnace and a storage tank. Not Cheap. Conversion to heat pumps isn’t cheap to begin with and is likely to work poorly if the heating system uses baseboard hot water as will be the case if the heating system was designed for natural gas or was designed for fuel oil then switched to natural gas.

          Solar panels leave something to be desired in a region that regularly gets snow dumps of one or two feet or more in a single storm.

          Exactly how does a heat pump replace a stove, oven, fireplace or clothes drier?

          Environmentalists mean well. Engineers they are not.

          Truth is that most of these folks are not going to be able to switch from natural gas to anything else. Fortunately, they have maybe six weeks until the first hard freeze.

          • Don K –I’m not sure you are looking at this matter in a “temporary” way. Leased Bottled Propane can be installed in less than a day. Whatever the premium is over NatGas it is miniscule compared to retrofitting an existing gas system. Temporary copper or composite lines can be piped to the existing regulator fitted with a new orifice. Completed in hours if the bottled propane can be Code-sited.

            I live in the country where propane/wood/oil are the preferred fuels for cost and convenience. I have a 1000 gal propane storage tank that I just capped off at $ 1.59/gal. It will carry me into Feb/March unless I fire my unit heaters in my 1200 sq.ft.pole barn to keep my diesel tractors ready for snow removal.
            Propane powers my residence with a gas furnace connected to a zoned radiant floor system, a propane fireplace in the main living area and a gas range for cooking. I have a wood stove as back-up in my man cave and if necessary I have zoned mini-split AC units that double as heat pumps in all areas of my three-level residence.

            I have an industrial propane fired 208/3/60, 120/1/60, 100A full house emergency generator if the power goes out. In SE PA at 1000′ AGL we have Winters comparable to NY/NE. If that is needed of course my Winter Fuel Budget goes to hell in a hand basket.

            Where I live the Boy Scout Motto “Be Prepared” applies. Did I mention I’m also a PE with 45 years as an Energy Specialist. I Walk the Walk.

          • Sounds like you are well setup, CB. Here in Butler county PA we get real nasty winters, or fairly mild winters, its a real crap shoot. Last couple of winters been pretty cold, though we got ripped off on snow. Propane users around here are slowly switching to gas, the Evil Marcellus Shale don’t ya know, and a lot of older all electric homes are getting setup for gas. Our local gas company has been replacing old metal lines with plastic for a few years. They did it kind of backwards, putting new lines from houses/structures out to mains, then after a large area is ready running new mains. I am sure many reading this thread would be shocked and appalled to learn that lots of the old metal lines are simply lying on the ground, only buried where they cross roads and driveways, so putting in new lines is a double benefit.

      • Good to hear from the source! Glad the local company has got of the dime and is pushing hard on repair. Too many times utility companies spend more effort protecting their little fiefdom than getting the job at hand completed in a timely and effective manner.

  2. Funny, no mention of wood burning stoves, which are very inexpensive ways of heating a home. Heat pumps just don’t work in places like Massachusetts where it gets freaking cold in winter. Plus, at about 5K, they are not cheap either.

    • When my motherinlaw got a new furnace a couple years ago she mentioned a heat pump and the sales guy shot it down. To expensive and inefficient for western PA. Eastern MA would be even worse for heat pump.

      • In WA State, my home used a heat pump that worked fairly well at moderate temps. When it was too cold, auxilary electric heat kicked in. Electric rates at the time made it more attractive.

        • Yea, cheap electric would be nice, in Taxetussetts they are already at extortion levels. Heatpumps have their place, just not in anyplace it is at or below freezing for several months out of the year. My mom has one combined with her central air, in Mississippi, it heats just fine for the limited amount of time it actually is cold enough to worry about. That and her honkin’ big brick fireplace with internal fan insert. ; )

        • Water based heat-pumps that use groundwater as the heat exchange medium will work just fine down to quite low temperature, but they are not cheap and take quite a while to install.

          • An entire French village was endangered because one pipe went through the wrong layer of soil, causing a deformation of that layer (I don’t remember the details and I know nothing about geology).

          • Mine is a direct-exchange ground-source heat pump that uses a single-stage refrigerant loop into the ground. It is very efficient since the ground a hundred feet down is always about 3-4 degrees C. The down side is that if the electricity goes out, I have no heat other than my gas fireplace.

          • I think that heat pumps in Northern climates are likely to work satisfactorily only if the building is designed to use them. My understanding is that 120F water is about the maximum for today’s heat pumps and that houses designed for oil/gas heat expect 170/180 degree water.

            I can attest from personal experience that Winter temperatures in Andover (owned a house there once) can fall to -12F (about -25C )

        • We live in central Washington State.
          The house is all electric.
          Heat pump is air sourced.
          If building new, I would have a ground source.
          Wood is our emergency back-up. It’s “free.”

          The house was built with ducts. We’ve no experience with using air-source heat pump in a non-duct house.

      • Heat pumps are not expensive. Do it the poor man’s way. Take window air conditioner and install it backwards in the window.

        • BS, even an optimised air-air heat pump is worthless below 5 deg C. It’s the thermodynamic equivalent of “shovelling shit up hill”. If you install an air-can backwards you will be a “poor man” when you get your first bill.

          Heat pumps hooked into a water flow or underground aquifer are worth doing. Air-air is a con-job.

          As for buying solar panels + converters + batteries to heat a home in a northern state, plus your own “social justice reasons” : expect to go to court and argue about the details of “reasonable costs” offer. Please read the fine print.

      • A heat pump system using underground heat would be very efficient anywhere, and not necessarily very expensive. I had one installed 20 years ago, and installation cost wasn’t too different to a “conventional” system. The pipes went down 30m (100ft). It worked brilliantly and had very low running cost. In high-population-density areas you would need a communal system.

        • I live in Mass and have a 6 ton geothermal heat pump. Nine Freon (yes, Legal) lines in the ground which act as my evaporator. COP of around 5.5 so very efficient. Wasn’t cheap to drill through ledge but I’ve been in the house 30 years. I’ve replaced only capacitors on the system, very low maintenance.

          Not an option for most people, takes time to install. We always see snow in the air before Thanksgiving. This is a genuine disaster and being treated as such but I doubt they can restore heat to everyone in time.

    • Wood burning appliances are being banned in Montreal because the particulate matter emitted by these devices is a source of smog, pollution and illness

      • You got that much particulate matter coming out your chimney then you ain’t doing it right! Which would be typical for the greentards who are running much of Canada into the ground.

          • Pine is OK as long as it is well seasoned. Have to clean flue because buildup can be a problem even with well seasoned pine. Want to see particulate issues? Look at using animal dung for cooking and heating. THAT is a mess.

      • That the PM2.5 BS, if human had a problem with that size particles the human race would have went extinct a long time ago. Smokers would not last a year. Instead medically you can’tell a smoker who smoke ten years from one who has not. In order for a non smoke to bring into his lungs as much PM 2.5 as a smoker does in ten years, even the world’s most polluted cities a nonsmoker would have to live ten of thousands of years. Wood stove bands are pure evil.

    • us is full of reverse cycle units
      theyre ok for cooling, but expensive to buy and run
      for heating…if youre in the room its ok, but they are placed high to allow cool air to drop means th hot airs up too high..and the warm the air but nothing else
      turn it off and the rooms cold in no time!
      a half decent wood stove heats the room and the contents, and can double for cooking in/on and water heating as well
      and unless you run outta wood…you dont suffer from service outages;-)

    • Pamele,
      Air source heat pumps are not quite that expensive, but they can get up to that range if you need to replace the furnace. I have a dual fuel unit that uses the heat pump down to about 5C and then switches to propane when the outside temp goes below that. I think I paid about US $3K four years ago when I built my house.

      Ground source heat pumps can be used all year round, but they are more expensive because of all piping involved and the installation costs. You also need a good sized field to bury the lines in – a good acre or two. There are systems that can installed in old wells that are no longer used and are less expensive, but I think they also don’t have as much heating capacity.

      • Perhaps you have never heard of well water source geothermal. In a 3600 sq.ft. log home residence that I owned from 1984 to 2002, I installed a 5 ton Tetco Geothermal Heat Pump attached to central air discharge ductwork. It was directly connected to my house main water source a 350 ft. deep well rated at 135 GPM. Could have supplied a whole community with that well.
        In the summer it maintained cooling at about 70 deg F. My electric bill was about $75/mo. Only power required was for the well pump and the air handler.
        In the winter the system struggled to maintain 60 deg. F until I installed a small propane fired boiler with a back-up coil. Later I also added a propane fired fireplace in one end of the house and a propane fired wood stove in the other end for zoned heating.
        Winter power costs B4 the propane back-up was $325/mo. because the Tetco Unit used an electric back-up coil and after—the electric was $75/mo. and the propane amounted to about $100/mo. Recovered back-up improvements in about 5-7 years but I did almost all the installation work myself because I was in the Home Building Business with others as an avocation.

  3. Heat pumps ? In Mass. In the winter ?
    Maybe that’s why their drivers have a certain nickname ?
    Which would refer to the space tween their ears ?

  4. Their best alternative IMO is to put a propane tank at each home, and hook it into the existing natural gas pipe system where it enters the home. Then all you do in addition is to change out the orifice nozzles on the furnace, kitchen stove, and hot water heater until the natural gas comes back online and then reconvert them back to nat gas orifices.

    Lots cheaper than swapping out a gas furnace for an oil-fired one, because those also come with a large oil storage tank, even bigger than the propane tank, with its own environmental issues. Plus the stove and hot water heater would need to be swapped out for electric models, and the electrical wiring in-place would have to redone by an elecricain to provde 240 volt service.

    • The downside is that all the work has to be done by licensed, gas-certified plumbers. In Massachusetts, those guys make about as much per hour as a Boston lawyer, because most of the larger plumbing companies that would get the conversion contract are unionized.

      But with that one death and the many injuries that were suffered by the gas explosions, this natural gas company will be lucky to still be in business after the ambulance chasers get done with them.

    • That would be a temporary plan, changing over gas/propane would certainly be cheaper than converting to something new. Ventless propane heaters would also be a good work around, and they can be converted to gas or just kept as emergency backup for future.

      • In the long-term (decades) natural gas is the only way to go with New England’s surging electric rates. Oil will never be allowed to get cheap, as the Green Taliban state will tax the crap out of it to make it go away if it were to get cheaper, and then provide subsidies to low-income to buy their votes.

        I looked at the EIA chart that Dave posted with this article. I couldn’t believe it.
        In 2012, I left Massachusetts and a 3,000 sf modern 2-story home and big finished basement (not the sf total).
        That house had two modern high-efficiency, pilot-less electric ignition gas furnaces (1 for 1st floor, 1 for 2nd floor) and a tank-less gas hot water heater. Awesome, as those kept our utility costs way down as oil and electricity were going up and up and natural gas price per 100 cubic-foot was going down, it went way down from 2005 to 2012.

        When I left in 2012, electricity was ~14c/KWh, and I thought that was very high. I can’t imagine it now with it 50% higher at 21.1c/KWh and still headed up as the Green Taliban wreck the affordability of energy there.

        • I feel much better knowing California is not the only state given over to insanity.

          By the way, if Gavin Newsom is elected governor here in November, expect an administration that makes Jerry Brown look sane and temperate.

  5. “Let’s take this opportunity to really bring these homes into the 21st century, not just for environmental reasons but for social justice BECAUSE WE SAID SO reasons,” Eldrenkamp said. “Let’s not just switch them over to heat pumps, but let’s get some solar panels in the neighborhoods and do the whole package.”

    Had to laugh at this one.
    The area where these explosions occurred is often coated in snow (sometimes deeply) throughout winter.
    Snow renders Solar Panels useless unless it is cleared regularly.
    While heat pumps are a reasonable idea (or turn your window A/C around so the heat is exhausted into your room and the A/C cools the outside).
    Propane would be the best option as many heaters, water heaters and ranges are dual rated.

    • Jim Varney was one of the most talented performers ever, as funny off camera as on. His best work may have been visiting sick and terminally ill children in the hospital who wanted to meet “Ernest.”

  6. My neighbor has a ground source heat pump, and she hates it. She complains the air temperature is hardly warm, and the airflow makes it feel chilly. We spent the $$ for a nat gas line, and have a small boiler with low temperature radiant. We just love the warm floors. I’ve never compared our energy costs, but I’d just hate an uncomfortable home.

    • I know a couple of people with ’em that are happy with it. But it’s so expensive to install one I doubt the gas company would consider it a “reasonable cost”. And not every lot is suitable for it.

        • “$60,000 to save $200 electric bill” Lol, $60K builds a pretty massive PV system. I produce a bit over 9 MW/hrs per year with 6.4KW of PV, enough to cover my annual usage with surplus. The components where under $10K in 2016, prices have fallen a bit since. My electric bills are less than $9 per month, a few dollars higher for a few winter months when I pay line usage charges for consuming energy “saved” from summer production. My break even after the 30% Fed tax gift is right around 6.5 years.

          • I’m guessing you don’t live north of the frost line. It will be interesting to see how much power your system produces in 10 years. If the stats I’ve seen are correct, it will be at least 10% less. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  7. Eldrenkamp said the best solution for affected communities, especially Lawrence, a low-income community, would be to combine heat pumps with community-owned solar arrays paired with large-scale batteries.

    Oh Yes! Please Please Please Please try it!

    • This sounds like a plan to get rid of the poor there. Freeze them all to death. Congratulations to the NAZI’s running Massachusetts for coming up with the ultimate solution. In the 1960”s the year I spent there while in the Air Force was really wonderful. I considered trying to settle there after my enlistment was up, but couldn’t find work there. Wow, was I lucky I didn’t find a job.

  8. “but let’s get some solar panels in the neighborhoods and do the whole package”…. this should be good for a laugh. Typical ready aim shoot from a SJW. I see Tesla coming to the rescue and only increasing their energy bill from natural gas by 10 times and simultaneously decreasing their reliability/availability. 42 to 43 degrees north is workable for solar but certainly not ideal.

    • Massachusetts towns get only about 3.3 (winter) to 4.3 (summer) hours of full sunlight a day, on average. Workable? I think not.

    • Regrettably it may be a test of how many died from cold compared with the deaths from heat in the summer. If the solutions proposed by the SJW are applied, there are likely to be ongoing lawsuits in the future against the replacement power options.

  9. It’s just Edward Markey land. Bring on the simultaneity of solar minimum, AMO decline, and post-super El Nino cooling. Don’t forget the polar vortex whining also.

  10. Many of the pipes can be replace by bursting the pipes (splitting) and pulling plastic pipe into the split pipe. This method results in limited surface disruption and is speedier compared to open cut trenching. For more information search “pipe bursting.”

    • “HA”, ….. bursting (splitting) “black” iron (steel) pipes that are buried under 18” to 30” of soil is surely a “magic trick” I would like to observe.

      Iffen you pull hard enough on one end of a buried “black” iron gas pipe, …. with one end of a roll of ‘plastic” gas pipe “firmly” attached to the other end of the iron pipe, ……. ya stop pulling when all of the iron gas pipe has been pulled out.

        • Thanks for the link, D.J., …… but you should read it more closely. To wit:

          90% of all the pipe bursting in North America is completed using a pneumatic system. From 4-inch through 54-inch diameter pipe,

          The 4” minimum is required because they have to “feed” a strong enough cable thru the pipe so that they can pull a steel “ball” back thru the pipe, causing it to “split” open wide enough to push or pull a new pipe through the cavity.

          Anyway, ….. I believe the discussion was centered on “NG pipe replacement for residential service hookups” which typically consists of either ¾” or 1” ID “black” iron gas pipe. (can’t use galvanized pipe)

          • My reply was mocking your ridicule of a construction method you were unwilling to even Google before you replied. By the way, nowhere does the phrase you put in quotes, “NG pipe replacement for residential service hookups”, actually appear, either in the article or comments here. Therefore your conclusion that it is only the 3/4 – 1″ pipe that needs replacing is unfounded. In fact, due to the fact that hoop stresses in pipe go up in proportion to diameter, two pipes of equal wall thickness but different diameters will have different stress at the same pressure, to the disadvantage of the the larger pipe.

          • GETTA clue, …. Hawkins, why in hell should I Google the construction method (bursting) mentioned by Rich Lambert when I knew damn well it wasn’t applicable when replacing residential NG service hookups?

            More piffle by D. J. Hawkins

            By the way, nowhere does the phrase you put in quotes, “NG pipe replacement for residential service hookups”, actually appear, either in the article or comments here.

            Hawkins, are you so silly that you are claiming that my above posted comment was really not a comment? Show my comment that you don’t understand to you Mother, she should be able to explain it to you.

            More CYA by D. J. Hawkins

            Therefore your conclusion that it is only the 3/4 – 1″ pipe that needs replacing is unfounded.

            Now you have gone from just being silly ……. to being asinine. To wit:

            Excerpted from above published article, to wit:

            Residents who relied on gas to heat their homes and cook their food won’t have service again until mid-November at the earliest, according to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. The company has 48 miles of pipeline to replace, and industry experts question whether it can meet even that timeline.

            Hawkins, it is quite obvious to me that the aforenoted 48 miles of pipeline that is in need of replacing is primarily residential service pipeline” …… not the larger diameter “feeder” pipelines.

      • You’re partially right. Small diameter steel pipe cannot be burst, but larger diameters can. For small diameter pipe there are other trenchless replacement methods such as moling, pipe pushing, and directional drilling. Depth of burial doesn’t really make any difference in whether pipe can be burst or not.

  11. One of the many reasons why as soon as my daughter graduates high school (and the divorce agreement that requires me to raise her here in MA becomes inoperative), I am moving out of New England.

    The green taliban that run this state won’t be overthrown until their theocratic policies turn this place into a hell-hole, and I don’t particularly care to be here during that process.

  12. Heat pumps are electric heating and cooling mechanisms. I don’t understand why a fuss is being made about them as if they were different in a major way from more conventional electric heating and AC.

    • the heat pump works best when temps are above 40 F. Once you get below 40 F, the electric heating elements are kicking in to do most of the heating. So there is no cost benefit as Heat Pump units are much more expensive because the outside compressor unit also has to be replaced. Additionally many of those older homes likely do not have A/C at all. If they do have A/C, they are usually add-on window-installed units.

      • Although New England Summers can be hot and humid at times — they are notoriously short. Most houses in Massachusetts and North are designed to keep heat in, not for cooling. Some housing does have central air, but baseboard hot water heat and window air conditioners — or no air conditioning at all — is more usual.

      • Yes, a good example of a place to use heat pumps is Yuma County, AZ, not to mention other low desert areas. Forty degree lows are very rare here and our heat pump is really great. However, we can go for two to three months at a time during the winter with no heating at all.

      • With SEER values in the low 20’s, modern heat pumps using spiral compressors are the most efficient way to use electricity to produce heat. However, as you point out that’s only true when the outside temperature is above 35F or so. That’s why I have a duel fuel unit that burns propane when the temperature is below that. I did the research on this a few years back when I built my house because I don’t have natural gas service where I live. Otherwise I would be on NG.

        • Yep, in the final measure gas is the way to go. Ma-in-Law got new high efficiency gas furnace, we still have ventless wall mount heaters for when we lose electricity, an event which is rare. Want to run another gas line into living room and set one in the old fireplace, they work amazingly well and are cheap to buy and run.

  13. What I still do not understand is how the gas pressures in the homes surged as they did.
    I mean obviously they did, but how?

    The normal supply pressure in the buried gas supply lines is supposed to be kept around 60-90 psi. Then every user has Pressure regulator before it enters the building. The pressure regulator is just prior to gas meter and is supposed to keep the outlet pressure to the residence at between 5.5-7.5 psi for the home/residence appliances.

    For the explosions and gas leaks, the supply line pressure must have had to surge well into the several 100’s of psi range to overcome the regulator. That’s more than just a pipe failure to cause that.

    • It is my understanding the explosions were caused by gas leaks from cracked lines. Had one here in PA caused by a landslide, opened pipe, gas leaked, another landslide disrupted a compressor station and caused electric arcing which ignited gas and lit off what was left in two sections of line.

    • My guess is that a high pressure regulator somewhere way upstream failed. Then as you suggest, the highly overpressured supply lines overwhelmed the residential regulators.
      The large geographic area affected gives a clue as to the nature of the cause.
      If the root cause was determined and made public, I missed it.

      Anybody with specific knowledge of municipal gas distribution systems please comment.

    • Then every user has Pressure regulator before it enters the building. The pressure regulator is just prior to gas meter and is …..

      Joel O, that would not only be extremely costly for the NG supplier, but also a gawd awful maintenance problem.

      Suburbs, housing developments, small towns, etc., that use NG, only requite one (1) Pressure regulator for all customers.

      And I wasa thinking that NG pressure in homes, retail businesses, etc., is measured in “ounces” of pressure, ….. not “pounds/square inch”.

      • Really?!?!? Every gas meter I have ever seen on a house or building has a pressure regulator between meter and structure. Same with propane/lng systems, it is right there in plain view.

    • Joel:
      You are off by an order of magnitude for the home-side pressure. It’s usually about 5 INCHES of water, and the local distribution is at 7.5 psig. A cross connect with the regional or national gas distro at 600 -1500 psig would completely blow out the regulator on a home gas meter.

      • You are indeed correct Sir.
        I was remembering the number 7 and not the units. My bad.
        I just put psi in as recovered memory, sort of like Christine Blasey-Ford on her assault filling in the blanks.

  14. The most economical solution would be to convert appliances to propane which generally requires a change in the orifice and appliance pressure regulator. Many gas appliances are easily convertible. Propane could be easily tied into the existing pipe network. Once natural gas service is restored the conversion back to NG is also easy and cheap.

    • They are certainly not a complete solution, and given the cost of electricity there, shouldn’t even be considered in a duel fuel system. Propane would be your best bet, at least until the NG system is restored.

    • Not sure how you can say that with the history of safe use. Gasoline is very dangerous, look at the safe usage of it.

    • As well you should be mocked.

      Electricity is dangerous. People get electrocuted everyday. Far more homes burn down everyday due to electrical shorts than due to nat gas malfunctions though.

      Gasoline is dangerous. Driving around with 10 or more gallons of highly flammable liquid that easily vaporizes. People get burned to death everyday in gas fires from accidents, spills, etc.

      And EV/hybrid cars are extremely dangerous because of energized battery systems at 300 Volts or more for rescue workers having to extract people in accidents, especially in the rain or if everything is wet.

      Solar panels are dangerous when installing or working on their wiring them as they are always “on” if the sun is on them.

      Bicycles are dangerous. Even without getting hit by cars, many people suffer grievous head and brain injuries from bike crashes everyday.

    • Most everything in life is dangerous when accidents happen. You deserve all the mocking you can get.

      • TY all for confirming my point……very silly comments that in no way contradicted anything i wrote

          • to you “natural gas is dangerous” is a stupid comment? amazing……..there are some things very few that are NOT “dangerous” marijuana as example is a non toxic substance……other behaviors indeed can be dangerous but the simple act of using marijuana is NOT “dangerous”……my experience has been going to bed at night isnt very dangerous…….

          • But bill, going to bed can be dangerous. While you are sleeping you could accidentally suffocate yourself if your bed sheets get wrapped around your neck or your pillow accidentally ends up covering your mouth and nose.

            You see Bill, there’s this thing we humans do called risk assessment and mitigation. We know that the world is a dangerous place and that many of the beneficial things we use also have dangerous sides if used improperly. So we assess the risk of our actions and take what steps we can to mitigate that risk. Just because something is “dangerous” doesn’t mean it can’t be useful.

          • Bill,
            While marijuana may very be non-toxic, it can still be dangerous. People have died in fires that were caused by people dropping their lit joints when they dozed off.

        • Glad I could help you confirm that you will be mocked for saying such inane comments. Yes, saying “natural gas is dangerous” is inane because mankind make use of many dangerous things (fire, electricity, water, gasoline, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, etc) each of which can cause harm (even death) when not used properly. But we use them because when used properly they enhance human life (and even help extend it). Perhaps if your brain hadn’t been so badly damaged from all that pot you’ve been smoking you’d realize that.

        • Or to put it another (to help you see why your comment gets you mocked) you say “natural gas is dangerous” with the implication being that we shouldn’t use natural gas. Ok, well let’s look at other things that are dangerous.

          Fire is dangerous. Therefore we shouldn’t use fire – no more cooked food for you (though, as you’ll see, you won’t have much food to cook following your “if it’s dangerous we shouldn’t use it implication”)

          Powered transportation is dangerous. Therefore we shouldn’t used powered transport. Not only does that mean no more driving cars, but no more trains, planes, or boats. Hope you live within walking distance of your workplace. But that’s ok if you don’t (as you’ll see below) as you won’t have time for working since your local grocery store likely won’t have any food to sell you as everything on it’s shelves arrive by truck (powered transport) that picked up the goods from an airport (planes) train terminal (trains) or seaport (boats). Guess you are going to have to hunt and grow your own food or know someone locally who does so. but wait

          Hunting is dangerous. Guns kill. as do arrows and knives and any other tool man used to hunt with. so we shouldn’t hunt, so looks like it’s the vegan life for you, but wait

          Farming is dangerous. The tools man uses to farm are dangerous (even the non-powered ones). A Shovel or plow can cause serious injury. ferterlizer and even grain if left in an enclose improperly ventilated space can explode. So we shouldn’t farm. Looks like you can’t eat (picking wild berries, mushrooms and other plants is dangerous too, might pick a poison berry after all) , but wait

          not eating is dangerous. now you are in a catch-22, what ever will you do?

          • NO implication in my comment….i id that to make the POINT and you folks have done so…..you read something into it that is NOT there and then you shoot down something i never wrote……i wrote a simple fact, making the POINT that on the internet even simple indisputable FACT causes one to get attacked on a personal level.

          • A fact without context is meaningless. IF you meant to imply something with that inane “fact” you deserve to be mocked. IF you meant to just toss it out as a “fact” without any context or meaning you doubly deserve to be mocked. So which is it, so I know the appropriate level of mocking to give you?

          • In other words, Bill, if you don’t want to be mocked you have to do more than just toss out meaningless “facts” devoid of any context. You actually have to put some substance and thought into what you are saying. You have failed to do that, hence your being “unmercifully” mocked.

  15. “Columbia Gas has offered to reimburse “reasonable costs” for residents who lost gas service and want to permanently shift to another heating source.”

    Isn’t that like Walmart paying people to shop at Target?

    • Even if it should turn out that this was a deliberate act, it’s going to remain a public relations disaster for Columbia Gas in particular and the natural gas industry in general. Their offer at least nominally suggests that Columbia is a “concerned neighbor”, trying to help their community in difficult circumstances. The folks so traumatized that they’ll never use gas again are quietly assisted to other forms of heating and don’t get a soap box from which they can pillory the gas company for its alleged indifference. This is about the cheapest form of good will they can possibly buy.

  16. When natural gas replaced ‘town gas’ in the UK in the early 70s similar explosions occurred due to the old iron pipes cracking and the more explosive methane leaked out. A nationwide campaign to line all the old pipes with poly pipes which solved the problem.

  17. I live in a part of the Midwest where coldest winter temperature typically is zero to +10F.
    One housing development here has no natural gas. Many homes have electric heat and others have heat pumps. Many homeowners with heat pumps have added propane tanks behind their house and inside heaters for winter use. The heat pumps just cannot keep the house warm on cold day-nights. And propane is more expensive than natural gas.
    Sure glad my area has gas.

  18. Let’s see “Climate outsiders” are saying the community is looking for alternatives. Really? Says who? It is Oct. there now the last thing they need is outside meddling. They need the pipes repaired fast, no games. The risks are to great. That area is north of Boston near New Hampshire. They will get snow and bitter cold very quickly.
    The area is rural (for the region).

    michael

  19. Of course the Greens are on the case.

    Anything that works is an anathema to them so of course they want the most impractical solution to the problem.

  20. In the ’90s, I lived in a tract built in mid ’70s when there was a “consensus” that NG was running out and new NG lines were banned. NG lines terminated about ten houses from mine, and we were all electric. Heat pump required back up electric furnace, which would kick on (and cost alot) when it got below freezing. My wife and daughters often noted that the air coming out of the heat registers was cold. All because a scientific consensus formed on the idea that NG would run out in the ‘8os! I’m sure Mosh will snipe that it was politicians etc, not scientists, but such sniping won’t put a gas line under that street.

  21. I was a member of the Izaak Walton League, because I liked how the local chapter worked in the community. Recently, I got an email from the larger chapter about how they were against a proposed pipeline and that I needed to contact my representatives to stop it. I wrote back asking if there was a scenario at which they would approve the pipeline. I have not received a response on any of my 3 emails. I strongly believe this group could care less about people impacted.

  22. Have owned a Heat-pump for years. All-in-all, it has saved me thousands on heating. They are Great with temperatures above freezing. Below freezing, they are still economical down to about 20 degrees F, however the closer to 20 the cooler it feels in the house. The thermometers in the house say it is 70 degrees, but it does not feel like it. The fan is blowing air that is just slightly warmer than the air in the room. You can not sit where there is an air current from the register that will hit you. My wife is not happy with it set 4 degrees higher than when the outdoor temperature is in the 40’s. Worst part for using a Heat pump is when electricity is your only source of energy. Below 20 degrees F, they switch over to the backup mode which for me is NG. If you have no NG it will be an electric coil, like the one in an electric dryer. I know people that had that, it is two sweater time then for them.

  23. Same in Ontario Canada. Feel sorry for those with electric heat where renewables and politics have pushed energy costs up. Here is a video of a lady crying in from of the PM. Watch and try not to cry.

  24. Don’t let a crisis go to waste! Find the most costly and ridiculous solution and implement it. That’s the government and Green way! 1) Replace the furnace (and air conditioner) with a heat pump. 2) What do you do about the water heater and kitchen range if gas? Replace them too. Wow! How much will we save? 3) Rip out the ng lines since they aren’t needed anymore, right?

    When the water infrastructure lines break why fix them? Let’s just put in a central pump station and people can come haul their water (or pay someone) back to their residence. Same with the electrical infrastructure. When lines fail, lets just have solar panels waiting in a warehouse, install them and jerk out the old electrical lines since the aren’t needed anymore.

    Aging infrastructure problem solved, right? Social Justice prevails. Greens are idolized!

    /sarc

  25. “…because it takes a lot more energy to move heat from a very cold area to a hotter one.”

    Hey, RGHE’s up/down/”back” LWIR moves energy from the cold troposphere to the warm earth w/o a power cord.

    Just get some o’ that!!

    WE knows exactly the secret how it works.

    Now, don’t hold out on us!! Share!!

  26. The Progressive War on the Poor and Middle Class:

    You have to love it when Social Justice Warriors strip the social out of the warrioring. Because if there’s anything that the poor or “marginalized communities” need, it’s heating bills a couple of hundred percent larger than they were before; a real sacrifice to be made by real people in the name of fighting an imaginary foe.

  27. Another issue with heat pumps is that as air temperatures get colder, ice starts to form on the outside coils when in heat pump mode.
    This means that from time to time the heat pump has to switch back to air conditioner mode in order to run hot freon through the outside coils in order to melt that ice.

  28. “Residents, or their landlords, also could decide to wait through increasingly cold weeks for the gas line to be rebuilt.”</blockquote

    lol. Loved that bit. I'm sure there may be one or two landlords who might like to wait. Residents, not so many.

  29. Here in South Australia a lot of homes use reverse cycle air conditioners. True in winter for a short while like 6am to 8am ice can form on the outside, but the unit then goes into anti icing mode.

    True we have a mild climate here, seldom see a frost, but right now our problem is will the electricity continue to flow. We have about 40 % renewables with all of their problems.

    MJE

  30. driving a car is a dangerous activity……..that FACT in no way implies we should not use cars….it DOES for me imply one should be VERY careful when driving a car……clearly many people ignore the danger and cause death on the highways.,…….a reminder of how dangerous that activity is should help the public with awareness and that is a good thing to do….not inane or stupid.

    • Just tossing out “x is dangerous” in no way helps public awareness. It is inane and stupid because it is devoid of all context or meaning (and hence is mock worthy). perhaps if you smoked less pot your cognitive abilities would be better and you’d understand that.

      • TY for the LYING personal attack……….i gave context and you still chose to attack me as a person with a LIE.

        • You are the one lying BILL, as anyone who can read this thread can attest. Your initial posting was “over the years I have been mocked unmercifully for daring to point out natural gas is dangerous” you just tossed out that “natural gas is dangerous” without any context complaining that people mocked you for that meaningless by itself fact. And when you were once again mocked as a result you whined like a baby that people had mocked you again. Grow up and learn that throwing out facts without context is meaningless and will lead to you being mocked.

        • As for the dig about your pot use, you are the one who brought up marijuana as being “not dangerous” in a thread that had nothing to do with marijuana. In my experience those that would do so tend to be marijuana users looking to defend their habit. Now you can deny you are a marijuana user, and I’ll happily accept that denial. That just means you poor cognitive abilities as exhibited in this thread are down to something else. I’m guessing it’s due to you being a person with a lot of growing up left to do, regardless of whatever your biological age may be.

          In the mean time feel free to whine some more about how you’ve been mocked. That will only force people to taunt mock you a second time (with apologies to Monty Python).

          • TY for another example of you making up BS i never wrote and shooting it down, nowhere did i write that i have ever used marijuana i merely used it as an example of a NON dangerous substance…….another LYING personal attack………YOU are a waste of my time, dismissed

          • BT,

            Making random statements is not communicating. We assume you were intending to communicate. Thus, JE is right to assume there is a connection between your statements.
            So, did you intend to communicate, or just make random statements?

            SR

          • what i was communicating is the reality of “communication” on the internet……that many people attempt to attack others for merely stating a simple FACT, that cant be disputed but the person get attacked…..the story above includes the natural gas explosion is why i used that “fact” in my post and the responses to it showed how far people will go to disagree and indeed make LYING personal comments about the poster…..saying natural gas is dangerous in NO way implies we should not use dangerous things, or any of the other “implications” falsely assigned to my comment. my personal opinion of the safest sources of electric generation are the newest designs for nuclear power safer and much cheaper

          • Bill?!? For the love of Jeebus, put the 2×4 down! That horse is dead.

            As for nuclear, I have supported it all my life, leftists and ecotards are going to fight it no matter how safe, efficient and economical it is.

          • So spouting random comments and not communication is your thing. and you wonder why you get mercilessly mocked?

  31. The pipelines in question were being replaced with new plastic pipelines. The explosions were caused by the over pressurization of the gas in the lines which caused 60 houses to have explosions or fires. It was human error not old pipes.

  32. The situation looks ripe for Propane drivers like Hank Hill if you ask me, David. A simple conversion kit for your gas appliances (which my propane dealer will provide) and you’re back in biz until the natural gas is up. 👍

  33. I did an analysis of wood pellets and pellet stoves and furnaces. Pellets typically cost $13-19/million BTU. It’s more expensive than natural gas but less expensive than propane or heating oil. They are thermostatically controlled. Has anyone had experience with these stoves? Do they work as well as advertised?

    Heat pumps don’t work in a cold climate. I had one at a condo in NJ. Every time the thing came on it sounded like the A/C was on, and someone had turned it up too high! A heat pump will keep you from freezing but you never feel warm in one and when the temperature drops below freezing it’s just resistance heat – there is little cost saving. Nowadays I live in Mississippi, and down here it works fine.

    • Personally I don’t recommend pellet stoves. Finicky and take a lot maintenance. If you do get one buy an ash vacuum or higher end ShopVac and clean the burner compartment regularly, otherwise you’ll have a bad day, ‘mmmK. I would suggest sticking with wood, get a stove with forced air built in.

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