CMP to seek three-year rate hike under new network upgrade plan

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Electricity bills for the average Central Maine Power customer could rise by as much as $10 a month over the next three years, under a new plan to upgrade the utility’s reliability and network.

CMP told state regulators it would file a three-year rate case later this summer. Under the proposal, the average household would see rate increases of approximately $5.00 per month in the first year, and an additional monthly increase of $2.50 in the second and third years.

The rate increases will cover grid upgrades, which CMP says are needed to support a growing number of solar and other renewable energy connections.

Governor Janet Mills said she opposes the plan and she called on the CMP not to file the application later this summer.

“If they do it recklessly, I will ask my energy office to intervene in the case to oppose it, and I will call on the Maine Public Utilities Commission to dismiss it so that Maine sends the a clear message to our utilities that their focus must be on improving performance, reducing costs and restoring confidence,” Mills said in a statement Thursday. “There is simply no way that increasing people’s electricity bills right now can be considered fair and reasonable. I will fight against that.”

The timing of a potential electricity rate hike is “terrible,” with high natural gas prices and the war in Ukraine putting further pressure on the global energy market, public attorney Bill Harwood said.

“To add this increase to all of this right now is a real burden on the citizens of Maine, who are facing high energy costs,” he said.

CMP President Joe Purington said he recognizes many Mainers are going through tough times financially.

But he said the plan will bring stability and reliability to his customers over the next few years, and will allow CMP to install more durable lines and poles that can withstand more intense storms due to change. climatic.

“The way I see it is that I would rather have a stable investment in the system and slowly pass those costs on to customers, rather than deferring those costs to future years where the increase would be much greater,” Purington said.

Harwood said his team is preparing to analyze the CMP’s full plan once it’s tabled. They will likely recommend ways for CMP to reduce costs to taxpayers, including reducing its overall profit margin, he said.

“We’re going to be doing a very careful analysis of the financial markets, and I suspect we’ll be recommending something a lot less,” Harwood said.

If the plan is approved by the Public Utilities Commission, the rate increases will take effect in the third quarter of 2023.

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