Columbia Gas Explosion: Who will pay to rebuild?

Let’s be clear about this, Columbia's negligence led to the disaster that occurred in the Merrimack Valley last week. The customers whose houses didn't blow up will be without heat, hot water, cooking stoves, and dryers for months. Those whose houses did blow up are really up the creek. AND COLUMBIA IS GOING TO TRY TO GET THE RATEPAYERS TO PAY FOR THIS MESS. Let that sink in.

Excerpt from The Boston Globe:

“After explosions and fires killed an 18-year-old and destroyed dozens of homes in the Merrimack Valley last week, Columbia Gas has started the laborious task of rebuilding miles of pipelines to prevent a similar disaster.

But figuring out who’ll pay for all of that work — Columbia Gas’s shareholders or its customers in Massachusetts — remains an open question.

Traditionally, utility companies in Massachusetts are allowed to recover the costs of improvements to their networks from customers, in the form of higher rates. Penalties for negligence, however, are borne by the company and its shareholders, as are liability costs from legal settlements.

Noting that regulators already have the power to punish the company with a hefty fine, a former Department of Public Utilities commissioner, Susan Tierney, now an energy consultant with Boston-based Analysis Group, expects the agency to split the costs of upgrading the system in the Merrimack Valley between ratepayers and shareholders. ” (The Boston Globe)