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Utility fund lines pockets at customers' expense

Michelle Breidenbach and Tim Knauss, of The Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.), examined the previously undisclosed accounting of the National Grid fund, a little-known fund run by the power company. It spent $25 million of its customers' money on economic development projects &#8212 including image-making and branding, parties and promotion, and such gimmicks as a local public-TV "American Idol"-style show for small businesses. Government regulators who required the program provided no oversight on the spending, and the utility continued to keep secret many of the recipients.

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