Power bills in Maine still likely going up, but not as much as feared

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 2:33 PM EDT
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HALLOWELL, Maine (WMTW) - Central Maine Power customers will likely soon start paying more, but not as much as the company initially wanted.

According to the Maine office of the Public Advocate, a settlement agreement has been filed with the Maine Public Utilities Commission after weeks of negotiations about CMP’s distribution rate. There were also public hearings earlier this year.

The settlement calls for an increase of approximately $16.75 million on July 1, 2023, and additional step increases of the same amount on Jan. 1 and July 1, 2024, and Jan. 1, 2025.

The increase on July 1, 2023, means customers will see their bills go up about 1.08%, or about $1.67 per month for an average residential customer using 550-kilowatt hours per month. The initial proposal from CMP would have raised monthly bills by about $10.

“The settlement is not perfect,” said Andrew Landry, Deputy Public Advocate, and chief negotiator for the OPA, “but it represents a significant reduction from CMP’s initial request, which called for increases of $47.7 million in 2023, $27.7 million in 2024, and $23.4 million in 2025. CMP had also requested approval to defer the cost of certain investments for later recovery, but that would’ve contributed to even larger rate increases over the next two years. These deferral requests were eliminated as part of the settlement agreement.”

The settlement still needs to get PUC approval.

This comes months after a 49% increase to the supply rate went into effect, costing the average CMP customer $32 more per month. The company is not responsible for that increase.

The company has argued it needs to raise the distribution rate due to significant capital investments to improve customer service.

“To help ensure that such benefits are actually realized, the settlement agreement includes a provision that could impose financial penalties on the company if certain service quality levels are not achieved,” said Public Advocate William Harwood.