Central Maine Power utility lines are seen on Oct. 6, 2021, in Pownal. Maine Public Advocate William Harwood opposes a tentative agreement Electricity Maine, a competitive electricity provider, reached with the PUC staff. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press, file

Theresa Moran’s electric bill tripled in January 2023, leaving an indelible memory of how much she paid.

Her monthly bill soared to $728.

“I remember that number,” she said Wednesday in a phone interview.

Moran, an Arundel resident, said she did not use more electricity to justify the increase: “Nothing changed in my world except for my bill.”

Moran is a 15-year customer of Electricity Maine, which is the subject of an investigation by the state Public Utilities Commission following hundreds of complaints, according to Maine Public Advocate William Harwood. She said she received no notice of the price increase but paid what she owed.

She then quickly signed up for the standard offer, which is the rate set by the PUC.


“I went to standard offer as soon as I got the bill. Immediately,” she said.

Harwood, who has long battled Electricity Maine, opposes a tentative agreement the company reached with the PUC staff that calls for refunds to customers, allowing them to switch to fixed-rate plans from variable rates and improvements in customer service.

The PUC staff is reviewing filings that were due April 12 and will determine the next steps, a spokeswoman said.

Harwood says the tentative settlement does not provide for full refunds for all affected customers, does not sanction Electricity Maine for what he says are violations of consumer protection laws and rules, and allows Electricity Maine to continue to charge its customers a variable rate he said customers never “affirmatively chose” and that is higher than the standard offer rate.

Harwood, who has called for revoking Electricity Maine’s license, says it charges customers as much as 50% more than the 10.8 cents per kilowatt hour rate set by the PUC.

In an emailed statement, Electricity Maine said commodity prices change over time and electricity rates fluctuate.


“This can lead to situations where Electricity Maine’s rates are lower than the standard offer and sometimes higher,” it said.

“In fact, many of our customers are currently enjoying rates that are below the standard offer in both the CMP and Versant service areas.”

Electricity Maine said in a filing with the PUC that its tentative agreement with regulators is a “comprehensive resolution” of the agency’s investigation. It cited the agreement’s call for it to issue refunds to about 18,000 current and former customers who were billed at variable rates. The refunds will be for up to two months of supply service.

Refunds will range from less than $10 to nearly $4,000 based on how much electricity a customer used, according to the agreement.

Electricity Maine said “legal and factual issues” were in dispute about when renewal notices are required to be sent and the tentative agreement with the PUC resolves the disagreements. The company agreed to pay up to two months of refunds – a “reasonable period,” it said – to current and former customers who were charged variable rates and have not received a payment.

Maine allows retail consumers to buy electricity from competitive electricity providers such as Electricity Maine, which must be licensed by the PUC. In an interview, Harwood called for tougher regulations and legislation, comparing Maine’s competitive electricity landscape to the “wild west.”

The Legislature and Gov. Janet Mills this year enacted legislation that requires competitive electricity providers to disclose information detailing how customers can compare its service with the standard-offer service, bars service renewal without advance notice by mail and prohibits renewal of a contract at a fixed rate that is 20% or more above the contract rate in the previous contract without the consumer’s consent.

Competitive electricity providers also may not renew a contract at a variable rate without the customer’s consent and sets rules for the length of contracts with customers.

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