Tiered electric rates coming March 1

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: The monthly newsletter in with my residential Central Maine Power bill is advertising ETS (electric thermal storage) heaters. It indicates, “By charging an ETS heater at night when electricity prices are lowest, you can lower your overall heating costs and stay warm all day.”

I assumed that having smart meters would lead to a tiered rate structure whereby we would be charged more for peak power, but I didn’t know that had been implemented yet.

My bill only indicates one rate. How do they figure that prices are lowest at night? — Interested Reader from Strong

ANSWER: For an answer Sun Spots turned to John Carroll, CMP spokesman, who wrote:

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“Presently, CMP does offer a time-of-use rate that provides a break on the delivery portion of the bill for off-peak usage, but the more important off-peak charge is for supply. Beginning on March 1 of this year, consumers will be able to buy a time-of-use option through the Standard Offer supply provided through the Maine Public Utilities Commission, which will increase the benefit of running an ETS unit during the off-peak hours.

“Also, since electricity supply is an unregulated business and there are now several competitive energy suppliers offering retail supply to residential consumers, it’s possible that one or more other suppliers may want to offer a time-of-use option to attract new customers in the future.

“In any case, the installation of CMP’s new smart meters made it possible for these electricity suppliers to offer tiered rates, since the meters can record usage in hourly increments. Consumers can choose to purchase a tiered rate, or they can stick with a flat rate. Our investment in smart meters simply gives them the choice.”

DEAR SUN SPOTS: For seniors looking to learn about operating computers (Dec. 31 letter), L/A College will be offering a class for seniors on computer basics in late March. Contact is Sandi Croft, staff associate for LearningWorks, 51 Westminster St., Lewiston, ME 04240, 753-6556, fax 753-6688, scroft@usm.maine.edu. — Peter Blake via email

DEAR SUN SPOTS: In response to the Dec. 31 letter from a person trying to figure out how to use a Kindle, I would like to offer my services to the people of Lewiston-Auburn — young and old — to teach the many intricacies of modern technology one on one. Even experienced technology users can learn useful new skills, which can save both time and money.

Services I offer include computer setup, beginner computer skills, altering computer settings for easier personal usage, Internet security, dangers and benefits of file-sharing, how to access and surf the Web, lessons in how to maximize use of your cellphone/smartphone, and much more. I charge $35 per hour.

If you have computer problems you think I could help you solve, please contact me. — David Baril, 212-5705, davidbaril85@yahoo.com

DEAR SUN SPOTS: For the person looking for help with the Kindle, if he goes to amazon.com and types in “Kindle user’s guide, he should be able to download it onto his Kindle for free. He might even already have it on there. It will answer many questions. — maggiemae871@msn.com

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I read the second letter (Dec. 28) to Sun Spots concerning the 66 fiberglass lighthouses that were sponsored by businesses, cultural organizations, foundations, civic groups and schools throughout Greater Portland.

Out Front Productions sold the sponsorships for Hannaford’s Lighthouses on Parade. The lighthouses went on display in the Greater Portland region in May 2003, and in the fall the lighthouses were auctioned off with the proceeds going to nonprofit agencies.

My son was a mentor at the School at Sweetser and contributed to the “Ladders of Hope” lighthouse. The “Cape Ape” lighthouse, which the Sun Spots’ writer mentioned, is in Hebron and was sponsered by Harbour Lights.

Also, in 2003, a book was published (ISBN 0-9711459-8-9) entitled “Lighthouses on Parade,” which details each lighthouse and the project. — W.L. Gray, lighthse_wlg@hotmail.com

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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