BOSTON — Eversource Energy announced it has reached an agreement to purchase the Massachusetts natural-gas assets of Columbia Gas for $1.1 billion from NiSource. The acquisition will bring Columbia Gas operations in Massachusetts under local ownership by the largest energy company in New England.
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’s current parent company, NiSource.
Eversource plans to finance the transaction with a balance of new equity and debt that maintains its credit profile.
“We look forward to working with Columbia Gas to achieve the transaction and ensure a safe and smooth transition of services for customers in Massachusetts,” Judge added.
The transaction will require approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the U.S. Justice Department. Eversource and Columbia Gas intend to engage with key regulatory stakeholders and consumer advocates over the next 30 days to review the investments needed to operate the system, to minimize rate impacts and review key benefits for customers. The parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the third quarter 2020.