City Council seeks to clarify pipeline need

WESTFIELD – The City Council last night agreed to invite the Westfield Gas and Electric (WG&E) Department to its first meeting next month to clarify the need for a pipeline to the proposed Pioneer Valley Energy Center (PVEC).
The invitation was the result of discussion on a motion to indefinitely table approving an interdepartmental agreement between the mayor and WG&E. Approval of the motion would give the mayor the authority to sign the agreement if it becomes needed. The intent of the agreement, said Ward 1 Councilor Mary Ann Babinski, was solely to bring the pipeline to the proposed power plant and there was no other purpose for it.
Babinski made the motion to table and maintained that since the power plant did not receive ISO New England’s stamp of approval this year, there was no urgency to approving the agreement.
“The pipe was intended solely for the PVEC,” she said. “If a power plant is not going to be constructed, there would be no need for this.”
Babinski said WG&E Manager Dan Howard wrote a letter to that effect dated Feb. 8, 2016. Councilor Daniel Knapik said the statements in her letter were different than the ones made by Howard in a letter dated Feb. 18, 2016.
The Council then agreed to ask Howard to clarify the discrepancies at its next meeting. The Council also agreed that it would then take the motion on the agreement off the table for discussion and possible vote at its second meeting in March.
“I think two weeks is plenty of time,” said Council President Brent D. Bean II.
Councilors Babinski and Mary O’Connell also submitted “a resolution authorizing the city to accept and support a request made by the Department of Public Utilities and associated state agencies for the review of new and unusual circumstances related to the proposed siting of the PVEC.”
Babinski said her constituents are concerned about the power plant coming to the area.
“This is not just an issue for Ward 1, but for the city,” she said.
The request was sent to the Public Health and Safety Committee and License and Ordinance Committee.

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