Eversource announced on purchasing Columbia Gas of Mass. | News

Eversource announced on purchasing Columbia Gas of Mass. | News

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) –Eversource has announced they are buying Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, to the tune of $1.1 billion.

This decision was announced just hours after federal prosecutors ordered Columbia Gas out of the state, following their role in the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions.

Western Mass News got answers on when the takeover will happen, and what customers can expect.

Eversource will now acquire the 122,000 local customers who previously used Columbia Gas in western Massachusetts.

Western Mass News spoke with Eversource spokesperson, Priscilla Ress about not only the future for those customers but for the local employees who used to work for the ousted utility company.

“It’s significant out here in western Massachusetts because Eversource doesn’t offer, hasn’t offered gas services,” Priscilla explained.

Though Eversource has natural gas operations in eastern Massachusetts, this is their first gas foray into the western part of the state.

The company planning to spend $1.1 billion to acquire Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which was ousted by federal prosecutors Wednesday for their role in the Lawrence gas explosions of 2018.

“We’re going to be investing significantly in Columbia Gas infrastructure,” Priscilla noted.

She told Western Mass News they will be re-branding Columbia Gas and operating it under a new name as a separate entity.

Because federal prosecutors outlined a pattern of poor record-keeping within Columbia Gas, we asked Eversource how they plan to vet the files that will be turned over to them.

“We are going to review everything and of course we have visual inspections, we have our experts that are going to be looking at the system and we are going to make this the best, the safest, the most reliable system possible,” Priscilla explained.

Priscilla said the full transition likely won’t be in place until late Summer or early Fall.

When it does, she says the 275 local Columbia Gas workers will still have a job.

“Eversource is going to be offering employment to all Columbia Gas employees,” Priscilla noted.

For the 122,000 local Columbia Gas customers who will see the changeover, we asked about the impact on their bill.

She said it’s too early to make promises, but she said Eversource is evaluating where they can streamline the day-to-day operations of the two companies.

“We may already have it support necessary that’s in place, we may also have some shared business processes so that can affect the cost. If there’s a saving, that goes back to the customers,” Priscilla said.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said his first goal is to ensure the transition for Columbia Gas’s 47,000 city customers, is safe.

He said he is also willing to fight to make sure those customers don’t see a hike in price.

“We want to make sure that we don’t only receive good quality and safe service but we want to ensure that we receive fair pricing,” Mayor Sarno explained.

Now under this agreement, all liabilities related to the 2018 Lawrence Gas Explosion will remain the responsibility of NiSource, Columbia Gas’s parent company.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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