National Grid has been hauled over the coals by US regulators after including staff expenses for face cream and cat transportation costs in proposals to raise energy rates, it emerged today.
The utility giant - which has a significant supply business in America - confirmed it has withdrawn four million dollars (£2.6 million) from its latest US price hike plans relating to non-essential staff expenses.
But New York and Massachusetts regulators claim National Grid is wrongly charging as much as 26 million dollars (£16.8 million) in employee expense costs as part of its latest submission, under which the group is hoping to push through multi-million dollar rate rises.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the Attorney General of Massachusetts claims to have found expense costs filed including 1,200 dollars (£778) for shipping a wine collection, 1,200 dollars for cat transportation, 546.57 dollars (£354) for face cream and nearly 15,000 dollars for Christmas parties (£9,700).
The regulators are said to be concerned over the company's accounting practices and attempts to see US consumers pay for expenses through their rates.
National Grid said some of the expenses flagged up related largely to relocation costs for British expatriate staff working in America.
A spokesman said: "The exchange of staff between the UK and US is an important part of our National Grid operating model.
"We decided to withdraw that portion of our request in the interests of moving ahead with our proposal."
He added such costs were not included in the current rates being paid by US consumers.
The group is now set to hire a firm to conduct an independent review of how it handles expense costs in its future accounts.
National Grid is heavily regulated in both the UK and US as an energy network operator on these shores and an energy supplier in America.
It faces tough restrictions on how much it can raise rates by and what the money can be spent on.
National Grid initially proposed raising rates in New York by 369 million dollars (£239 million) and 107 million dollars (£69 million) in Massachusetts.