Councilor Lederman Demands Accountability, Transparency in Columbia Gas Sale

At-Large Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman has submitted comments to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities with regard to the pending sale of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts to Eversource Energy.

“We have worked hard to ensure accountability, transparency, and communication with the natural gas utility in Springfield,” said Councilor Lederman.

The sale of Columbia Gas to Eversource will double the amount of natural gas customers Eversource has in Massachusetts.

In his comments, Councilor Lederman highlights a 2016 study by the public utility watchdog HEET, based in Boston, which showed larger utilities struggle more with communication and coordination with local governments.

“Local governments and rate-payers must be assured that the administration of this new behemoth utility will be accessible, accountable, and transparent with regard to infrastructure, safety, rate-setting, and community needs and concerns,” said Councilor Lederman.

In 2017, Councilor Lederman was part of a community coalition that secured an agreement with Columbia Gas for repair of previously ignored Grade 3 gas leaks in Springfield. He says that work must be prioritized under Eversource as well, especially in communities like Springfield, which have such aged infrastructure.

Lederman also asked for clarity on any impact the sale could have on rate-setting, as well as the proposed Columbia Gas Reliability Project, an expansion proposed by the utility that “remains a mystery to the public in terms of cost and siting, and status of which has not been clarified to us in the context of this sale,” said Councilor Lederman.

“Should the sale be approved, Eversource must be compelled to meet regularly with local executive and legislative leaders in their new gas service territory to address these types of concerns, with special emphasis paid to coordination of gas infrastructure repairs in communities with the oldest infrastructure, like Springfield,” said Councilor Lederman.

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