Columbia Gas withdrawing rate hike proposal following gas explosion incident

Massachusetts

Columbia Gas announced the company will withdraw its pending rate case originally filed with the state’s department of public utilities back in April.

The decision comes a week after the series of natural gas explosions in the eastern part of the state. One young man was killed when an explosion caused a chimney to fall on the car he was sitting in outside. Thousands were forced out of their homes.

“Our team is fully committed to restoring the affected communities, rebuilding peace of mind and reestablishing trust in our company,” said Columbia Gas of Massachusetts President Steve Bryant. “This action is fully necessary at a time when we must maintain our focus on supporting our customers.”

Columbia Gas is scheduled to replace the entire 48-mile natural gas distribution system serving 8,600 customers. According to Columbia Gas, the system in the affected area will be replaced with new plastic lines that feature modern safety features, including pressure regulation and excess flow valves.

Meanwhile, a class action lawsuit was filed against Columbia Gas and its parent company in connection with the deadly explosions.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for residents who were forced to evacuate after the explosions, but didn’t suffer injuries or damage to their homes.

The 22News I-Team contacted State Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, to see whether they’ll be initiating any lawsuits. 

Chloe Gotsis, a spokesperson for the AG’s office sent the I-Team the following statement:

“Once federal and state regulators complete their investigation into what caused this accident, our office will be prepared to take any and all appropriate action. We will continue to serve as a resource for residents and an advocate for ratepayers in Merrimack Valley and across the state.”

Investigators have determined the pressure of the natural gas pipeline was 12 times higher than it should have been before the explosions. The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to look into what led up to the explosions.

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