BOSTON (CBS) – Eversource Energy has reached an agreement to purchase the natural gas assets of Columbia Gas in Massachusetts for $1.1 billion.

The agreement was announced on the same day Columbia Gas was fined $53 million and ordered to sell its business in Massachusetts for its role in the 2018 Merrimack Valley explosions.

Under the agreement, liabilities related to the explosions will remain the responsibility of NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas.

The FBI Boston said a joint investigation led to the decision to hold Columbia Gas “criminally & financially accountable” for the explosions and fires that killed a young man and damaged or destroyed several homes and businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover on September 13, 2018.

Columbia Gas currently serves 330,000 gas customers in more than 60 communities in Massachusetts. Eversource has 300,000 natural gas customers and 1.5 million electric customers across the state.

Eversource said Columbia Gas customers will “realize numerous benefits” from the transaction including ownership by a locally focused company and improved safety and reliability.

The transaction still needs to be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the U.S. Justice Department.

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