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Maine Governor Seeks Federal Intervention in Pipeline Dispute

AUGUSTA, Maine - Electric bills are rising as New England prepares for the winter heating season, and Gov. Paul R. LePage is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - or FERC - to address skyrocketing energy prices in the region.

The governor says electricity rates in Massachusetts are expected to increase 37 percent over last winter, bringing the average electric bill to $121.20 per household each month. Speaking to lawmakers on the Legislature's Utilities and Technology Committee Monday, outgoing Maine Public Utilities Chair Thomas Welch said electric rates in Maine are already scheduled to trend upward per kilowatt hour over the winter months.

"The October rate is 6.2 cents, in November it goes to 8.6, December, 11.9; January 14.9 and February, 14.4," Welch said. "That's for Central Maine Power. The numbers for Bangor Hydro are slightly higher, but roughly comparable."

LePage blamed what he called liberal opposition in Massachusetts to a multi-state natural gas expansion pipeline as a factor in perpetuating the region's high energy costs and wants FERC to intervene.

Editor's Note: This story should have specified that the increases Maine PUC Chair Tom Welch cited refer to the standard offer electricity supply for medium-sized business customers - not residential customers. At Central Maine Power, the price for residential customers taking standard offer supply in CMP's service area will remain fixed at 7.56 cents per kilowatt hour through February of 2015.