You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Columbia Gas to leave Massachusetts by fall, pay $56 million per AG settlement

Boston Herald logo Boston Herald 7/2/2020 Lisa Kashinsky
Maura Healey wearing a suit and tie sitting in front of a curtain: BOSTON MA. - SEPTEMBER 16: AG Maura Healey discusses Purdue Pharma bankruptcy filing during a press conference on September 16, 2019 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) © Provided by Boston Herald BOSTON MA. - SEPTEMBER 16: AG Maura Healey discusses Purdue Pharma bankruptcy filing during a press conference on September 16, 2019 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Columbia Gas will leave Massachusetts by the fall and pay another $56 million for its role in the Merrimack Valley gas disaster, according to a settlement announced Thursday by state Attorney General Maura Healey.

The utility company faulted for the 2018 blasts will transfer its assets to Eversource on Nov. 1, pay for an “Energy Relief Fund” to help 26,000 low-income customers wipe out nearly $15 million in gas bill debt and put $41 million toward energy efficiency programs and incentives in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover run through the AG’s office and Department of Energy Resources.

“Today’s first-of-its-kind agreement ensures that Columbia Gas never does business in Massachusetts again, invests millions of dollars in the Merrimack Valley, and helps low-income customers pay their gas bills,” Healey said in a statement.

The settlement — now pending Department of Public Utilities approval — concludes Healey and DPU’s investigations into the explosions that killed a Lawrence teenager, injured two dozen others, damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes and displaced thousands.

“I want to thank Attorney General Healey for taking money out of the hands of Columbia Gas and putting it back into the impacted residents who to this day, are still trying to recover from the effects of the gas fires.” Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera said. “This is another step towards justice, and an opportunity for our community to continue to heal.”

Related Articles

Eversource will be required to implement a comprehensive safety program, fix any outstanding issues with Columbia Gas’s pipeline safety violations from the 2018 blasts, fund heat pump pilot programs and develop strategies to meet the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements. Current rates will remain in effect through November 2021.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the agreement builds on his administration’s “commitment to the full recovery of the communities, residents and businesses of the Merrimack Valley,” as well as improving pipeline safety and increasing clean energy initiatives.

The settlement comes on top of the $53 million fine and three years’ probation a federal judge sentenced Columbia Gas to in June after the company agreed to plead guilty to violating the Pipeline Safety Act. It also moves along the DPU approval process for Eversource to buy Columbia Gas’s natural gas assets for $1.1 billion.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Boston Herald

Boston Herald
Boston Herald
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon