Mass. AG against Columbia Gas rate increase

Bryan Cohen Sep. 14, 2012, 1:23pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley expressed her opposition on Thursday to a proposed $29.2 million rate increase by Columbia Gas.

Coakley alleges that the company is attempting to pass on millions in unneeded costs. Bay State Gas Company, doing business as Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, provides natural gas services to approximately 295,000 consumers in Massachusetts.

Coakley filed a brief on Tuesday with the Department of Public Utilities recommending that the company be denied the $29.2 million increase and instead cut its rates by $27.9 million. Coakley alleged that $100,000 of the company's proposed increase would go toward corporate jet travel.

"Columbia Gas' request for a rate increase simply doesn't pass the 'common sense test,'" Coakley said. "Columbia Gas received a significant rate increase in 2009, and they still have yet to follow through on the upgrades they promised to deliver with those funds. Now they are back seeking to pass more unnecessary costs on to ratepayers.

"If their executives want to fly on corporate jets, they can do it on their shareholders' dime, not at the expense of Massachusetts ratepayers."

The DPU must rule on the request for the Columbia Gas rate hike by Nov. 1.

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