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Columbia Gas pulls back $33M hike request

Columbia Gas withdrew its request to raise gas distribution rates by $33 million yesterday, within 24 hours they put boots on the surface to commence replacing your whole propane distribution system inside Merrimack Valley.

The gas company desires to “focus exclusively on service restoration and customer assistance” and “relieve customers of a typical impact of an base-rate change that may layer on top of the burden of long-term service distributions and outages.”

Columbia Gas in April requested to hike rates by $44.5 million and recently agreed with Attorney General Maura Healey’s office to cut back its request to $33.Two million. Comments on that settlement agreement with Healey’s office were due yesterday.

After a gas line malfunction killed anyone and injured over two dozen others a couple weeks ago, the gas company said its “resources and management focus are entirely subsumed in service restoration efforts as well as in efforts to help you customers.”

Meanwhile, Columbia Gas is getting work done in collaboration while using the governor’s office and stakeholders to change the entire affected 48-mile cast-iron and bare steel pipeline system while in the towns of Andover, Lawrence and North Andover with state-of-the-art plastic distribution mains and service lines, and safety features like pressure regulation and excess flow valves at each and every premise.

Crews were taking care of preliminary repairs and staging equipment to switch parts of natural gas pipeline while in the greater Lawrence area yesterday, including Osgood and Andover streets, Kingston and Newton streets, and Brookfield and Broadway streets between Lennox and Chester streets.

“This preliminary work helps expedite pipeline alternative to a finite part of gas line from the impacted area, and is not part of the long-term restoration efforts,” the statement said.

A small component of residents may have gas service restored during the coming days, including those that survive on Bowdoin and Jefferson streets, and Columbia Gas will reach out to those people to notify them. Officials and also the gas company always warn residents don’t try and flip on their gas services.

Brian Dowling contributed to this report.

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