Columbia Gas on Monday announced a targeted effort to replace condemned appliances in the approximately 8,000 Merrimack Valley homes affected by September's gas explosions and fires with energy-efficient models, where possible, at no cost to customers. The announcement comes more than six weeks after the gas explosions and fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, and under pressure from the state attorney general's office, as well as Merrimack Valley residents who have been frustrated in their attempts to get energy-efficient appliances installed in their homes.
Some religious leaders see this an issue of environmental justice. Susan Almonó, who ministers to the congregation of Grace Episcopal Church in Lawrence with her husband, the Rev. Joel Almonó, was one of 19 Merrimack Valley faith leaders who signed an Oct. 9 letter to Gov. Charlie Baker and the CEOs of Columbia Gas and NiSource, asking, among other things, for energy-efficient replacement appliances.
“As we rebuild, what are we rebuilding for?” asked Susan Almonó, during an interview in late October. Grace Episcopal Church is a member of Interfaith Power & Light, a group whose mission is to “be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy,” according to its website.