Maine’s second-largest utility, Versant Power, is seeking a $120-a-year average electricity rate increase to pay for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, technology investments and labor market pressures.

But the state is opposing the Versant Power request, which if approved would go into effect in July 2023, saying that it’s the wrong time to ask cash-strapped Mainers who are already facing record-breaking electricity bills to pay even more.

“After careful evaluation of what we need to do to continue maintaining and improving customers’ access to electricity in northern and eastern Maine, we are seeking a change in distribution rates,” said Versant in an online post in advance of this week’s formal filing.

The utility, which serves almost 160,000 people, submitted a request on Thursday to the Maine Public Utilities Commission for a $10.50 increase in the utility bill for a residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours per month, commission documents show.

That increase is for an average customer. Those who use more would pay more. For example, a customer using 750 kWh would pay $15 to $16 a month more, or $189 to $192 a year. A customer using 1,000 kWh would pay $21 more a month, or an extra $252 a year.

The increase would be to the price of delivering electricity to customers. The other component of an electricity bill, supply charges, are set by the competitive bidding process. Last year, the PUC approved an 89 percent hike in electricity supply for Versant customers.


Tens of thousands of Mainers have struggled to pay their electric bills over the past two years, resulting in thousands of service disconnections, hundreds of thousands of past-due notices issued and tens of millions of dollars in utility revenue lost.

This year’s shockingly high electric rates in Maine aren’t just a one-time blip.

The conditions that sent electricity supply rates up more than 80 percent starting in January for most Maine households and small businesses are likely to persist into 2023, according to the latest projections from competitive energy providers, PUC officials and the Public Advocate’s Office.

At the same time, with inflation at a 40-year high, families in Maine, like those around the country, are paying more for food, fuel and housing, leaving many with less left over to pay their natural gas, heating oil and electric bills.

Versant said it would not profit from the increase. Instead, it would use the money to replace its old metering system and the worn cables serving Maine’s islands, reduce the impact and duration of outages, improve its tree trimming program and retain quality workers in a tight labor market.

“We are deliberately not seeking an opportunity to earn greater return,” Versant said. “If this rate change is approved, Versant Power will still offer distribution rates and total average residential bills that are lower than most comparable New England utilities.”

Versant’s request comes at a time of record-breaking electricity rates, and follows a request from Central Maine Power earlier this year seeking a 9 percent rate rate hike that would go into effect in 2023. Gov. Janet Mills is opposing that rate hike request, too.

“The timing of such improvements, and the costs associated with them, must be weighed against the already high electricity prices that Maine people … are being asked to pay,” Mills said Friday. “I do not believe now is the appropriate time for our utilities to seek further rate increases.”

Mills said she asked Versant not to file this request, and said she will now direct the state’s Energy Office to intervene in opposition. She is calling on the Maine Public Utilities Commission to reject the Versant request.

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