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CMP Customers Could See Significant Rate Hike In August

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

Central Maine Power customers could face a significant bill increase if regulators accept the company's latest rate proposals.

CMP is proposing $72 million in added transmission and delivery charges, starting in August - a rate hike that could cost typical residential customers an extra $8.65 a month. CMP says there are several components to that request, but the biggest is a 9% hike in its customers' share of investments in the regional grid's reliability - a cost federal regulators require to be spread among all New England ratepayers.

"I can't recall a time I've seen an increase that large," says Eric Stinneford, a CMP finance and planning vice-president at CMP. He says the region's grid needs some work.

"Transmission facilities that were built in the 50s and 60s are now approaching end of life and need to be rebuilt or refurbished to maintain the reliability of the network," Stinneford says.

Stinneford adds that while New England as a whole has actually decreased electricity usage in recent years, CMP customers' usage has gone up - a factor that increases their relative share of those regional grid costs.

Other factors driving up the transmission and delivery rates include a significant accounting adjustment, which CMP says is also required by federal formulas, and costs for the recovery from several wind and snowstorms last year. CMP is proposing to spread that total $70 million storm expense over four years. State regulators will consider that proposal next month.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.