Versant Power Asks for a Rate Increase That Will Affect Customers
Versant Power announced an intention this week to ask for a rate increase in their distribution rate, but Governor Mills says it's a bad idea.
How Will This Rate Increase Affect My Bill?
The company announced the intention to file for a rate increase this week, saying that it's needed in order for the company to continue to deliver electricity to northern and eastern Maine. For the average customer using 500 kilowatt-hours per month, this would mean an increase of about $10.50 per month in their bills. For customers who use 750 kwh per month, the elevated fees would result in a $15 to $16 increase, while 1,000 kwh customers would see an increase of about $21.
What Does Versant Plan to Do With the Extra Money?
Versant officials say the money would be used in a variety of ways:
- Replace outdated meters, which have reached the end of their useful life
- Replace deteriorating cables that provide electricity to customers on islands off the coast of Maine
- Build a new substation in Machias, which would improve reliability near Bad Little Falls
- Contine their work to improve reliability in the Old Town/Orono area
- Install additional equipment in northern Maine to prevent tree-related outages and reduce their impact and duration when they do occur
- Make continued improvements to their tree trimming program to reduce the number of power outages
- Invest in technology, in order to keep customer and other sensitive data secure
- Retain quality employees in a competitive labor market
According to a media release from Versant Power, approval of the increase would still result in distribution rates and total average residential bills lower than most comparable New England utilities.
Versant Power is deliberately not seeking an opportunity to earn greater return on investments as part of this request.
All Versant Power customers will get a letter detailing the information about how they can stay informed throughout the process, as the request is sent to the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
What is Governor Mills' Reaction to the Rate Increase?
Governor Janet Mills has announced her opposition to the notice of intent to file for the increase. While she acknowledges the importance of maintaining a strong electrical grid, she says it's important to weigh the cost of those improvements with what Maine customers are already paying.
With high prices expected to continue into the coming year - which is almost entirely the result of New England's dependence on expensive, imported natural gas - I do not believe now is the appropriate time for our utilities to seek further rate increases.
Mills is asking Versant Power not to file for the increase, stating that if they do, she will direct her Energy Office to intervene in opposition and ask the Maine PUC to reject the request.