Central Maine Power Wants to Charge More but the Governor Says No
Governor Janet Mills is criticizing Central Maine Power for a proposed rate increase filed with the Maine PUC.
Why is CMP Proposing a Rate Increase?
The rate increase is part of the company's new 'Powering Maine' plan, which was outlined this week in a letter to the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Essentially, the company wants to make improvements to its infrastructure that officials say would better prepare it for damaging storms, with the cost of those upgrades reflected in customers' bills. Those improvements would include things like:
- Installing more durable utility poles
- Automating the system with smart meters to speed up restoration time for outages
- Initiating more comprehensive tree trimming practices.
CMP CEO Joseph Purington says the company recognizes that this is a tough time to propose a rate increase, but it's also a crucial time for change.
We know household budgets are being hit hard by higher prices across the board right now, and the Powering Maine plan strives to ensure that progress continues on improving the electric grid and meeting clean energy goals - some of which will minimize annual energy costs over time - while being mindful that this is a tough time for many Mainers.
According to CMP's website, the rate increase would add approximately $5.00 per month for the first year, for an average customer using approximately 550 kWh per month, and then about $2.50 or less in years two and three. The rates are proposed to go into effect in the Fall of 2023.
Why is Governor Mills Opposed to It and What is She Prepared to Do?
Governor Janet Mills is not happy with the proposal since the current inflationary climate is already causing Mainers to struggle financially. She called it 'outrageous,' saying it adds 'insult to injury,' and called on CMP to reconsider filing the request.
If they unwisely do, I will direct my Energy Office to intervene in the case and oppose it, and I will call on the Maine Public Utilities Commission to reject it so that Maine sends the clear message to our utilities that their focus needs to be on improving performance, reducing cost burdens, and restoring trust.
Public Advocate Bill Harwood seconded her objections saying any increase in utility bills would add an unwanted burden on Mainers.
My office will be carefully examining the details of CMP's request to identify any underlying costs that are out of line and will offer the Public Utilities Commission an alternative recommendation that is consistent with the statutory requirement that CMP's rates be 'just and reasonable' and prioritizes the welfare of Maine ratepayers.
What's the Next Step for CMP?
CMP officials say they will continue to refine the Powering Maine plan in the next few months and then file it with the Maine Public Utilities Commission over the summer.