NSTAR Gas & Electric Company will pay back $44.7 million to customers who were allegedly overcharged for pension contributions, and energy efficiency and capital projects, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Wednesday.
The deal resolves 11 long-outstanding cases filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
The overcharges are related to delivery rate charges that are supposed to be reviewed by the DPU and updated annually. Because the DPU rarely completes reviews in a timely manner, it allows utility companies to collect charges before reconciling the actual expenses and the cost to consumers.
“Our office has consistently called for full investigations of these charges in a timely manner to protect utility customers in the commonwealth,” AG Coakley said. “Today’s settlement highlights the need to return to basic ratemaking principles, rather than relying on these annual rate adjustment mechanisms for utility cost recovery.”
NSTAR will refund more than $17.1 million related to overcharging for improvements to the safety and reliability of its electric system. It also will refund more than $23.6 million in pension costs after double-collecting for years. An additional $4 million will be refunded to correct issues with NSTAR's energy efficiency charges between 2009 and 2011.