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Mainers will see an increase in power bills beginning in July, after approval of CMP rate hike

In this Tuesday, May 28, 2019 photo, power lines converge on a Central Maine Power substation in Pownal, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
In this Tuesday, May 28, 2019 photo, power lines converge on a Central Maine Power substation in Pownal, Maine.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved a rate hike for customers of Central Maine Power on Tuesday.

The distribution rate increases will come in four steps starting July 1, and will cost the average residential customer about $5 per month over the next two years.

Commissioner Patrick Scully noted that CMP will likely request authorization for more capital expenses in the near future, to strengthen the grid, address climate change, and accommodate beneficial electrification. Though he approved the rate hike, Scully expressed disappointment in the lack of progress on rate design.

"As an example, I am convinced that we should be moving most customers to time-of-use rates, as promptly as we reasonably can, in order to shift demand away from the highest-cost periods, and thereby reduce the magnitude of future investments in the grid, and to reduce generation costs," Scully said.

The rate deal includes standards for reliability and customer service, enforced by penalties of up to $8.8 million annually. The PUC is also reviewing another proposed increase for CMP customers, over so-called stranded costs.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.