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Eversource on Wednesday announced it will purchase all of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts' assets in a $1.1 billion deal. The agreement comes just hours after the U.S Attorney's office announced Columbia Gas pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to leave the state.
“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 Jim Judge, Eversource chairman, president and CEO, in a statement released Wednesday evening.
The move will more than double Eversource's natural gas customer base, increasing subscribers from 300,000 to 630,000. The company also provides electricity to 1.5 million customers, according to the statement.
The deal must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the U.S. Justice Department.
Earlier on Wednesday, U.S Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling announced Columbia Gas agreed to a plea deal on federal charges that it violated the Pipeline Safety Act. Columbia agreed to pay a $53 million fine and leave the Massachusetts market.
"Part of what we are doing here is attempting to vindicate the outrage in the city of Lawrence and surrounding towns," Lelling said at a news conference in Boston. "We knew that one of the things those communities wanted is for Columbia Gas to simply go away. And, so, that's why one of the components of this agreement is that that company will now go away. The tragedy was of such an extent that it would be extremely difficult for the populations of those towns to trust this company going forward."
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