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President Trump puts some distance between himself and policy on Syria. Also on the rundown: South Dakota awaits a SCOTUS ruling on the insanity defense, plus the focus remains on election security for 2020.

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Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, two members of the Squad, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders. Plus, some candidates are spending more than they're raising.

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Bay State Consumers "Overcharged" Billions by Utilities?

Natural-gas pipeline opponents say they'll protest again Friday at Gov. Charlie Baker's office. (350 Mass For a Better Future)
Natural-gas pipeline opponents say they'll protest again Friday at Gov. Charlie Baker's office. (350 Mass For a Better Future)
October 13, 2017

BOSTON – A new report says two utility companies inflated energy costs for their customers in Massachusetts and other New England states. The allegations are being made in a new white paper by the Environmental Defense Fund.

Craig Altemose, Master of Public Policy for the group, "350 Mass for a Better Future," says the allegation is that companies artificially constrained natural-gas pipeline capacity. He says Waltham-based Eversource Energy, along with the Connecticut utility Avangrid, are accused of making the demand for natural gas look higher than it actually was.

"And over the past three years, they charged consumers an extra $3.6 billion beyond what they should have charged," he says. "And EverSource, in particular, was playing this trick during the coldest winter months and particularly during the colder forecasts."

Altemose says the best estimates are that Massachusetts consumers were overcharged about $2 million in the three-year period. Both utilities deny the allegations and Eversource added the report appears to be fabricated by anti-pipeline proponents.

Altemose thinks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission needs to look into the allegations. At the state level, he says Attorney General Maura Healey has been keeping a close tab on the companies and the proposed pipelines.

"She did a study about two years ago that proved that we do not need these pipelines, that it'd be a waste of ratepayer money to force us to build them," he explains. "So, again, I would be very surprised if her office is not already looking into it."

Pipeline opponents say they plan to hold another lunchtime stand-in outside the Governor's office Friday. They're calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to sign an executive order against all new natural-gas infrastructure by the middle of next month.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA