Most Maine electricity customers to pay lower rates next year

Lori Valigra | BDN
Lori Valigra | BDN
A Central Maine Power truck in Windham in June 2019.
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Regulators continued deep price cuts for Maine electricity customers on Wednesday after several years of raising rates.
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Regulators continued deep price cuts for Maine electricity customers on Wednesday after several years of raising rates.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission steeply cut rates for the standard offer, a fixed rate set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission each year as a default electricity option. It is one part of a customer’s utility bill.

Wednesday’s standard-offer rates were set for Central Maine Power and Emera-Maine Public District customers. The move comes one day after the commission gave Emera Maine-Bangor Hydro customers price relief.

“These lower prices reflect electricity supply and demand conditions in New England and their impact on wholesale energy markets,” Commissioner Bruce Williamson said in a prepared statement.

The commission dropped the rate for small-class customers, which are small businesses and residences that are customers of CMP, by 18.9 percent to 9 cents per kilowatt hour in 2020.

The price has been on an upward trend over the past couple of years. Last year the price rose 14 percent, and in 2018 it rose 18 percent for CMP customers.

That translates into a decrease of $9.35 per month on the total bill for residential CMP customers getting standard-offer electricity and using an average of 550 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That’s a drop from $95.53 per month now to $86.18 in 2020.

The medium-class price will drop 22 percent to 6.99 cents per kilowatt hour.

The commission said the standard-offer rate accounts for about 52 percent of sales in CMP’s service area.

In Emera’s Maine Public District, small customers will see more than a 20 percent drop in the standard offer price to 6.73 cents per kilowatt hour. Medium class customers will see an almost 23 percent drop to 6.43 cents per kilowatt hour.

The new prices are effective for 12 months starting Jan. 1, 2020. While the residential and small business prices will be the same each month, the price for medium businesses will vary month to month.

The commission arranges for standard-offer service through a competitive bidding process.

It plans to release the names of the winning electricity suppliers in two weeks.

The rates it sets do not apply to customers who purchase their own electricity supply in the market.

A Maine law enacted in March 2000 created electricity rate competition. It states that any customer who does not designate a competitive electricity provider to supply their electricity will receive standard-offer service.

Emera Maine and CMP do not supply electricity. They offer transmission and distribution services for the electricity.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the annual price increases as a downward trend.


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