Columbia Gas customers have sticker shock at first bills since explosions in Massachusetts

    Bill from Columbia Gas (WBZ-TV)

    ANDOVER, MA -- Some residents of the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts are shocked after receiving their first gas bill from Columbia Gas since a series of explosions damaged dozens of homes and killed one man in September.

    (Photo:Malini Basu)

    They say it's a doosie that came without warning or ample time to pay.

    "We got a huge bill in the mail -- $243 from out of nowhere, and we're on a payment plan. And they're like, 'You've got until the 20th to pay it," said Shane Nevins of North Andover.

    Columbia Gas suspended billing while recovering from the crisis, but a spokesman said the billing information was available on the company's website.

    "It was clear on the website and if they called Columbia Gas if they had not received a bill, why they have not received a bill. Columbia Gas works all the time with customers over how to pay it over a period of time so nobody should worry about that and certainly in the winter, no one is danger of having their gas cut off,” Columbia Gas spokesman Scott Ferson said.

    (CNN via MGN Online)

    Customers whose gas service was interrupted did receive a credit.

    Nevins said he received a $13 restoration credit for the month of September.

    "I mean, thousands of people in these towns that were affected and they didn't tell anybody except over a website?" Nevins said.

    [Public Utilities Commission offers safety tips if you suspect a gas leak]

    For now, as the Merrimack Valley braces for the sticker shock, Nevins says he has no choice but to set up a payment plan.

    Some customers were without gas service for months following the explosions.

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