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Policy: Environment & Energy

Massachusetts AG opposes natural gas rate hike request

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Associated Press,Massachusetts,Energy and Environment,Attorney General,Natural Gas

BOSTON (AP) — Attorney General Martha Coakley is asking state regulators to reject a $30 million rate hike request by a natural gas company that serves 300,000 Massachusetts customers because of what she considers unnecessary spending by company executives.

Columbia Gas on Friday asked the Department of Public Utilities for the rate hike.

Coakley says the utility spends too much on executive perks, such as $180,000 in travel expenses, including leases on two private jets that ferry executives around the country. The perks include thousands on leadership retreats, retirement parties and dinners.

A Columbia spokeswoman tells the Boston Herald the $30 million is needed to fund an "aggressive effort to modernize (Columbia's) system ... and replace aging natural gas infrastructure."

A DPU spokeswoman said the agency will weigh the request by late February.

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