MERRILLVILLE, Ind., Sept. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, a unit of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), today announced that it is committed to completely replace the natural gas distribution system in the Merrimack Valley.
The company is developing a plan in collaboration with the Governor's Office and all stakeholders to replace the entire affected 48-mile cast iron and bare steel pipeline system in the towns of Andover, Lawrence and North Andover with state-of-the-art plastic distribution mains and service lines, and modern safety features such as pressure regulation and excess flow valves at each premise. This system, which serves approximately 8,600 customers, was involved in the tragic September 13, 2018 incident which remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
"This unprecedented event requires unprecedented action," said NiSource President and CEO Joe Hamrock. "With this incident, a life was tragically lost and thousands of other lives were directly affected. We lost the trust of this community and are 100 percent committed to restoring safety, confidence and peace of mind for everyone in this community. Over time, we hope to earn back the trust we lost during this incident."
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts is in the midst of a multiyear program to modernize its gas distribution system and replace cast iron and bare steel pipeline systems across the state. Our commitment to accelerate that work in the Merrimack Valley, while larger in scale than a typical modernization project, is necessary in light of recent events. We remain committed to the modernization of all of our pipeline systems.
Restoration update Restoration efforts continue in the communities affected by Thursday's incident. As of 7:00 a.m. ET today, residents in the Merrimack Valley began to return home. All buildings have been cleared and electric power has been restored to virtually all residents as of this afternoon. A full complement of crews remain in the area throughout neighborhoods to assist residents as they return to their homes and answer any questions they may have about gas safety. In addition, NiSource and its insurance carriers are working diligently to process damage claims submitted by customers.
Maintaining our commitment to customers, communities and all stakeholders The actions announced today are central to NiSource's commitment to safely provide service to customers throughout Massachusetts and across the company. NiSource also remains dedicated to delivering on its commitments to all stakeholders, including achieving the company's previously announced long-term financial and credit commitments.
About NiSource NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.5 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across seven states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. Based in Merrillville, Indiana, NiSource's approximately 8,000 employees are focused on safely delivering reliable and affordable energy to our customers and communities we serve. NiSource has been designated a World's Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute since 2012, is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability - North America Index and was named by Forbes magazine as the top-rated utility among America's Best Large Employers in 2017. Additional information about NiSource, its investments in modern infrastructure and systems, its commitments and its local brands can be found at www.nisource.com. Follow us at www.facebook.com/nisource, www.linkedin.com/company/nisource or www.twitter.com/nisourceinc. NI-F
Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities laws. Investors and prospective investors should understand that many factors govern whether any forward-looking statement contained herein will be or can be realized. Any one of those factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Examples of forward-looking statements in this press release include statements and expectations regarding NiSource's or any of its subsidiaries' business, performance, growth, commitments, investment opportunities, and planned, identified, infrastructure or utility investments. All forward-looking statements are based on assumptions that management believes to be reasonable; however, there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the projections, forecasts, estimates, plans, expectations and strategy discussed in this press release include, among other things, NiSource's debt obligations; any changes in NiSource's credit rating; NiSource's ability to execute its growth strategy; changes in general economic, capital and commodity market conditions; pension funding obligations; economic regulation and the impact of regulatory rate reviews; NiSource's ability to obtain expected financial or regulatory outcomes; any damage to NiSource's reputation; compliance with environmental laws and the costs of associated liabilities; fluctuations in demand from residential and commercial customers; economic conditions of certain industries; the success of NIPSCO's electric generation strategy; the price of energy commodities and related transportation costs or an inability to obtain an adequate, reliable and cost-effective fuel supply to meet customer demands; the reliability of customers and suppliers to fulfill their payment and contractual obligations; potential impairments of goodwill or definite-lived intangible assets; changes in taxation and accounting principles; potential incidents and other operating risks associated with our business; the impact of an aging infrastructure; the impact of climate change; potential cyber-attacks; construction risks and natural gas costs and supply risks; extreme weather conditions; the attraction and retention of a qualified work force; advances in technology; the ability of NiSource's subsidiaries to generate cash; tax liabilities associated with the separation of Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc.; NiSource's ability to manage new initiatives and organizational changes; the performance of third-party suppliers and service providers; the availability of insurance to cover all significant losses and other matters set forth in Item 1A, "Risk Factors" section of NiSource's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 and in other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A credit rating is not a recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities, and may be subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating organization. In addition, dividends are subject to board approval. NiSource expressly disclaims any duty to update, supplement or amend any of its forward-looking statements contained in this press release, whether as a result of new information, subsequent events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.