Coakley: Customers Should Get Utility Penalties Rebated

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Attorney General Martha Coakley is asking utility fines be returned to ratepayers. Photo Credit: file photo

BOSTON, Mass. - Attorney General Martha Coakley is asking the Department of Public Utilities to direct any penalties issued against utility companies for their failed response to last year's Hurricane Irene and October snowstorm.

Coakley's motion, filed Thursday with the department, comes just days after Hurricane Sandy brought power outages -- and more complaints about utility responses -- to the area.

During the summer, the state legislature passed a law establishing that any penalties levied against utilities by the department would be returned to ratepayers. This law came after Coakley recommended record fines of $16 million against National Grid and $9.7 million against NStar for their failed responses to both storms.

Coakley's latest motion argues the new law should apply to the 2011 storms because it went into effect before the department's final decision on the penalties.

“People suffered through extensive hardships due to the failed responses of the utility companies during the 2011 storms,” Coakley said in a news release. “We have argued for record fines against the utilities for those failures, and believe any penalties levied should be returned to the ratepayers.”

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