Columbia Gas of Massachusetts says it will pay for conversions to other fuels, “such as electric, propane or fuel oil,” for customers that lost natural gas service after a series of fires and explosions on Sept. 13 in communities in the Merrimack Valley.
The gas-fueled fires and explosions in Andover, Lawrence and North Andover killed one person, injured dozens and displaced thousands, The Boston Globe and other news outlets reported. While many of the displaced have been allowed to return to their homes, restoration and repair work is ongoing and is expected to continue into November, according to statements by representatives of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.
A “common questions” page on the Columbia Gas of Massachusetts website includes the question, “How should I go about switching to an alternative fuel?”
Columbia Gas says:
“Beginning Wednesday, September 26, teams will begin deployment to every impacted residence or business to do a full assessment and determine what appliances need to be replaced or repaired. This assessment will help prepare customers to have gas service restored safely and damaged appliances replaced. Customers will receive a communication from Columbia Gas to confirm the assessment so they can plan to be at the property. It will take several weeks for all assessments to be completed. If you are not able to wait until your assessment and repairs are scheduled to be performed, you may elect to contract directly with an appropriate certified licensed contractor to install appliances and systems that are fueled by sources other than natural gas (such as electric, propane or fuel oil). Customers who want to switch appliances should file a claim at 1-800-590-5571 if they have not already done so, and speak with a claims adjuster. If you do hire such a contractor, we request the licensed contractor provide you detailed receipts, including your name, service address, make/model of parts, and labor, so that Columbia Gas may reimburse you for reasonable costs.”
Another question on the “common questions” page is:
“I want to permanently or temporarily switch my business to an alternative fuel source. Will you pay for that?”
Columbia Gas says:
“Yes. We will reimburse businesses for reasonable costs of permanently switching to an alternative fuel source (such as electric, propane or fuel oil) for appliances and systems that were fueled by natural gas prior to the outage, and have that switch paid for by Columbia Gas. If you wish to temporarily switch to appliances and systems that are fueled by sources other than natural gas for the duration of the outage, and then return to gas-fueled appliances and systems, Columbia Gas will reimburse you for reasonable costs associated with both the temporary solution as well as the return to gas-fueled appliances and systems. Customers who want to switch appliances should file a claim at 1-800-590-5571 if they have not already done so, and speak with a claims adjuster. It is important that you have your business evaluated by a licensed electrician or technician prior to switching to any alternate electric solution to ensure it is safe to do so.”
The common questions page can be accessed here:
NiSource, Merrillville, Ind., is the parent company of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.