December 21, 2017

AG Healey appeals Eversource $220M rate hike

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Attorney General Maura Healey has appealed the DPU's decision to allow Eversource's rate increase for electrical customers.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Wednesday appealed the Department of Public Utilities' decision to approve Eversource's electric rate increase, specifically targeting the 10-percent shareholder return.

In a press release, Healey's office called the rate increase one of the highest rate allowed by an electric distribution company regulator in the last five years.

Eversource provides electricity to the MetroWest region in Central Massachusetts, as well as in Greater Boston, Southeastern Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts. The utility also provides natural gas services in Greater Worcester, although those prices were not impacted by the DPU's decision on electric rates.

In Healey's petition, the office alleges the DPU violated state laws and legal precedent by failing to back up its order to increase the company's allowed shareholder profits.

The DPU last month approved Eversource return on equity as part of its decision to increase rates by $220 million over the next five years, including a $37-million increase in the first year and annual 3.5-percent increases for the next four years.

Healey and her office have challenged the rate increase since the docket was opened last January. The company's original proposal was for a 10.5 percent return on equity. Healey's office in July legal filings urged the DPU to lower than request to 8.8 percent.

"The DPU's order would increase costs for Massachusetts electricity customers by tens of millions of dollars," Healey said in a statement. "We are appealing because customers deserve to know why the DPU chose to enrich Eversource shareholders at the expense of electric ratepayers."

Healey's office also on Wednesday filed a motion for reconsideration to urge the DPU to reduce the annual rate increases under the five-year rate plan.

In a statement, Eversource spokeswoman Rhiannon D'Angelo said the company doesn't see "any unique issues being raised that were not fully considered" over the year-long DPU proceedings.

"Our rate request underwent a fully litigated, fully transparent process since we first filed it in January, with the DPU's decision significantly cutting our request for cost recovery by nearly $44M (78 percent) in Eastern Mass and about $10.6M (30 percent) in Western Mass.," she said.

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