The largest public utility in New England is paying $1.1 billion for a Massachusetts natural gas utility at fault for 2018 explosions and fires, and which was just told by federal regulators to exit the state.
Eversource Energy is acquiring the Massachusetts natural gas assets of Columbia Gas from Indiana-based NiSource, Kallanish Energy learns.
The announcement came the same day as Columbia Gas of Massachusetts agreed to pay a $53 million fine in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors concerning the explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, Massachusetts, on Sept. 13, 2018. The blasts killed one person, injured 22 and damaged more than 130 homes and businesses. Regulators told Columbia it no longer could do business in Massachusetts.
The companies said under the asset purchase agreement, liabilities related to the Merrimack Valley explosions will remain the responsibility of NiSource.
The deal could more than double the number of natural gas customers Eversource has in Massachusetts, from 300,000 to roughly 630,000. Columbia Gas currently serves 60 communities in Massachusetts, while Eversource has 1.5 million electric customers in 51 Massachusetts communities.
“Eversource is uniquely positioned to leverage the strengths of our current and future workforce, facilities, gas supply resources and business processes to achieve greater operational efficiency, while continuing to deliver on our unwavering commitment to safety and superior service for our customers,” Jim Judge, chairman, president and CEO of Eversource, said, in a statement.
Columbia Gas disregarded known safety risks during a pipe replacement project that began in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 2016, prosecutors said, and failed to guard against the over-pressurization that led to the explosions in the three Merrimack Valley communities.
Eversource has a total of 4 million gas, electric and water customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
This post appeared first on Kallanish Energy News.