Eversource Energy has agreed to buy for $1.1 billion the Massachusetts natural gas assets of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, the company responsible for the gas pipeline disaster in the Merrimack Valley in 2018.
The announcement was made Wednesday night, the same day a deal was made public in which Columbia will plead guilty to federal charges and pay a $53 million fine. The gas pipeline disaster killed a Lawrence teenager, injured two dozen others and was responsible for 130 fires in Massachusetts homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.
According to an Eversource news release, the acquisition will bring Columbia Gas operations in Massachusetts under local ownership by the largest energy company in New England.
Eversource spokesman Kaitlyn Woods said the acquisition of Columbia Gas will not have an impact on New Hampshire customers.
“We do not serve any natural gas customers here in the Granite State, and this transaction will not have any effect on our current natural gas operations in Connecticut and Massachusetts,” Woods said.
Columbia Gas currently serves 330,000 natural gas customers in more than 60 communities in Massachusetts. Eversource has 300,000 natural gas customers and 1.5 million electric customers in 51 communities across the commonwealth. Many communities that Columbia Gas serves with natural gas already receive electric service from Eversource.
“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,” said Eversource Chairman, President and CEO Jim Judge.
“Under the asset purchase agreement, liabilities related to the September 2018 gas distribution incidents in the Merrimack Valley will remain the responsibility of Columbia Gas’ current parent company, NiSource,” the release states.