In response to the 11th and 12th sets of orders from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), Columbia Gas of Massachusetts has begun verifying approximately 2,200 additional service lines abandoned last fall as part of the Merrimack Valley recovery effort. This effort is being taken out of an abundance of caution and at the direction of the DPU. None of the 2,200 abandoned service lines that will be verified are connected to the active gas system. While Columbia Gas is not aware of any immediate safety concerns associated with these service lines, the company will continue to conduct continuous leak surveillance and remediation throughout the area.
Following the announcement of an initial set of verifications for 713 service lines, Columbia Gas has been working to comply with the October 1 direction set forth by the DPU to develop its plan to expand the verification to an additional 2,200 old service lines. These additional verifications cover customers with service lines that were formerly connected to inside meters and were abandoned during the fall 2018 recovery effort. These verifications, as required by the DPU, will confirm that the work on these abandoned service lines was executed in a manner consistent with federal and state requirements and in compliance with CMA’s procedures and protocols. Active service lines installed in the fall of 2018 as part of the Merrimack Valley recovery effort will not be affected, and therefore, there will be no disruption to gas service for customers.
Columbia Gas is in the process of conducting outreach to customers to schedule appointments to verify the old service lines. The company will conduct verifications seven days a week in order to complete the project by the deadline of November 15. Customers may choose to have the verification conducted inside or outside of their home or business. If the inspection finds the abandoned service line was not retired in accordance with Massachusetts requirements, the crew will complete the necessary work.
“We understand that while these verifications are an important part of our ongoing work in the Merrimack Valley, they are also an additional cause of frustration for our customers across this community,” said Mark Kempic, President and Chief Operating Officer of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. “Our employees remain deeply committed to restoring and maintaining the trust and confidence of all our customers and we are working as quickly and safely as possible to conduct this work in partnership with the DPU.”
In addition to the abandonment verification work, under a non-emergency work moratorium issued by the DPU on October 3, Columbia Gas will coordinate with the DPU daily to secure approval to complete necessary work on the company’s gas distribution system throughout the state. Customers across the Merrimack Valley and statewide will continue to see Columbia Gas crews out in the community conducting approved work on a daily basis.
Customers may visit the Customer Care Center at 439 South Union Street in Lawrence, call 1-866-388-3239 or visit ColumbiaGasMA.com for more information.
About Columbia Gas of Massachusetts
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts delivers clean, affordable and efficient natural gas to over 320,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Massachusetts, the greater Springfield area and the Merrimack Valley. Headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, the company is the largest gas-only provider in the state and is one of NiSource's seven regulated utility companies. NiSource (NYSE:NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.5 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. More information about Columbia Gas of Massachusetts is available at ColumbiaGasMA.com.
NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.5 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across seven states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. Based in Merrillville, Indiana, NiSource's approximately 8,100 employees are focused on safely delivering reliable and affordable energy to our customers and communities we serve. NiSource is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability - North America Index and the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index and has been named by Forbes magazine among America's Best Large Employers since 2016. Additional information about NiSource, its investments in modern infrastructure and systems, its commitments and its local brands can be found at NiSource.com. Follow us at Facebook.com/NiSource, LinkedIn.com/company/NiSource or Twitter.com/NiSourceInc. NI-F