Natural gas utilities in Massachusetts will be required to first evaluate clean energy projects before expanding their systems after state regulators issued limits on local distribution companies (LDC).

Former state Attorney General Maura Healey in 2020 called on the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to investigate potential pathways to phase out natural gas use and shift to alternative fuels. DPU answered that call earlier in the month with Order 20-80, which puts LDCs on a path to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. 

Under the order, gas LDCs have to examine alternatives to make natural gas expansions to new customers unnecessary, DPU said. In addition, LDCs would no longer be able to recover costs for marketing natural gas use. 

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