Maine electric rates on way up

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AUGUSTA (AP) – Standard offer electric rates are scheduled to rise March 1 throughout most of Maine, despite declines in energy prices, regulators said Thursday.

Residential and small business customers of Central Maine Power will be paying 2.7 percent more in combined energy and delivery charges, while those served by Bangor Hydro-Electric will see their rates go up by 1.7 percent.

The increases were announced by the Public Utilities Commission, which accepted bids this week on the new standard offer energy rates.

The new rates are about 8.8 cents per kilowatt hour for CMP customers and about 9 cents for Bangor Hydro customers.

PUC Chairman Kurt Adams said rates would have gone down if not for new payments mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to promote more power generation in parts of New England, such as southwest Connecticut, that lack enough power plants.

“The fact that the new standard offer rate is higher despite declines in energy prices illustrates the impact of recently implemented New England capacity payment rules,” Adams said. “These capacity payments present an unfair burden for Maine rate payers.”

Adams vowed that his agency will continue to oppose the federal decision to impose the charges, saying they stand to cost Maine consumers $300 million over the next four years.

The PUC last month appealed the FERC decision.

The standard offer rates were chosen following a competitive bidding process, but the names of the winning suppliers were being withheld for two weeks to allow time for supply arrangements, the agency said.

As the default supply for electricity customers, standard offer service will be provided to customers who have not bought power from another retail supplier or through an aggregator. About 99 percent of electricity for residential customers of CMP and Bangor Hydro comes through standard offer.

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