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May 29, 2023
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Columbia Gas paid $1.1M in fines

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts spent much more than $1.1 million in fines for safety violations, tax audits, missed appointments as well as other issues in past times 36 months, in line with documents filed with utility regulators recently.

In 2017, Columbia Gas paid $252,000 for 50 violations on the state’s Dig Safe program, a public safety initiative to guarantee utility workers and contractors excavating near gas, water and electric lines implement it safely.

The company, whose gas main lines concluded in dozens of explosions and a second death inside the Merrimack Valley a week ago, also this past year coughed up $136,649 on account of a Massachusetts Department of Revenue audit that covered 2012 to 2014.

An additional $256,200 in missed appointment rebates and penalty accruals contributed to the business, as a whole, paying $644,849 for your year — a virtually threefold sum from your fines and penalties paid in the prior eighteen months.

In 2016, Columbia Gas paid $211,550 — contains Dig Safe violations, a civil penalty and missed appointment rebates — plus in 2015, the firm paid $278,800, also mainly for Dig Safe violations and missed appointments.

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, a subsidiary of NiSource Inc., a $9.1 billion Indiana-based company, declined to inquire into the fines and penalties it reported in reaction to questions from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office linked to its request to raise gas rates by $45 million. The provider Wednesday withdrew its ask for the pace hike, which before explosions ended up dialed to $33 million caused by a settlement with Healey’s office.

Columbia Gas delivers gas to 321,000 homes and businesses in 65 towns and cities from the Lawrence, Brockton and Springfield areas. Nearly all its clients are residential.

Columbia Gas President Stephen H. Bryant, at the helm in the embattled company, made $424,692 in 2017, including the tariff of benefits, according to the filings. His pay was $426,729 in 2016 and $387,997 in 2015.

The filings detail how he was reimbursed by Columbia Gas’ parent company a good total of $51,565 last year for business expenses, meals and entertainment, telephone and training. He got back $55,484 in 2016 and $51,597 in 2015.

The regulatory filings also show the provider had paid for over $5,000 in settlements of court judgments up to now few years. The Department of Public Utilities allowed this company to redact the settlement amounts from your public filing.

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