November 19, 2017
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Electricity prices to jump for most Maine customers

By Lori Valigra
Kaylie Reese | BDN
Kaylie Reese | BDN

Most of Maine’s electricity customers will pay higher rates next year.

The prices apply to customers of Central Maine Power and Emera’s Bangor Hydro district who receive the “standard offer,” a fixed rate approved by state utilities’ regulators each year as a default electricity option. The rates for 2018 are the result of a months-long regular review process by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, unrelated to the recent storm outages.

Bangor Hydro’s residential and small business customers receiving standard rates for electricity service, or the energy supply portion of their bill, will see a 14 percent hike over last year to 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour starting Jan. 1, 2018. The increase is separate from distribution costs for the electricity, which did not change.

The total average residential bill will rise about 5 percent monthly, according to the PUC. That percentage includes the electricity rate, distribution costs, taxes and other costs. Emera Maine said that would mean a $4.52 per month increase in the total electric bill of an average household using 500 kilowatt hours per month.

About 60 percent, or roughly 114,000 of Bangor Hydro’s customers have standard offer service. The rest buy their own electricity on the market.

Prices for medium-sized business customers of Bangor Hydro fluctuate monthly but will average 21 percent higher than last year. They will total about 8.1 cents per kilowatt hour when averaged annually.

Prices for large business customers will be indexed to market prices and set monthly. Most large businesses buy their electricity on the open market to get better prices, Lanphear said.

The Bangor Hydro District covers most of Penobscot, Hancock, Piscataquis and Washington counties.

The regulatory body announced Central Maine Power’s price for residential and small business customers will be 7.92 cents per kilowatt hour starting Jan. 1, an 18 percent rise.

An average residential CMP customer using 550 kilowatt hours per month can expect their bill to rise 8 percent, or about $6.75, monthly, including total charges, PUC spokesman Harry Lanphear said.

According to PUC figures, 82 percent of CMP’s customers in central and southern Maine, or about 506,200, chose standard-offer electricity.

Mid-sized businesses will see a 21 percent rise in their average annual rate to almost 8.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

The two power companies deliver electricity to customers that is provided by suppliers. Lanphear said the companies that will supply the power will be announced in two weeks.

Power plants are compensated for the energy they have now for consumers and for the capacity they keep to meet future demand. There was a shortfall in the future capacity in New England as several coal plants were shut and replaced with non-coal power generators, so that drove up electricity prices, PUC Chairman Mark Vannoy said.

The prices were set by a competitive bidding process, Lanphear said.

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