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Mass. AG: Reject utility's $20M cost increase

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging the Department of Public Utilities to reject a $20 million cost increase request by the Western Massachusetts Electric Company.

The utility is requesting the increase to help recover costs related to previous storms including Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm.

Coakley is urging regulators to cut that request to $4.2 million, saying the $20 million request includes funding for promotional t-shirts and videos and bonuses for employees who handled storm response issues.

Coakley argues most of the costs the utility is seeking to recover should not be passed on to ratepayers.

Coakley said another cost cited by the utility, pruning trees to avoid power outages, should be split with Verizon.

In 2012, the utility was fined $2 million for its response to the October 2011 snowstorm.