Governor calls on Versant to not file the rate request; says if they do, she will direct Energy Office to intervene in opposition and that PUC should reject it
Augusta, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills today announced her opposition to Versant Power’s notice of intent to file for a rate increase. In its notice, the utility says it will seek a $10.50 monthly increase – or about $126 a year – from the average residential ratepayer in its service area of Maine starting in the summer of 2023. Versant’s filing comes at a time of record-high electricity rates, and follows a filing made earlier this year by Central Maine Power seeking a nine percent rate increase starting in 2023, which Governor Mills has also pledged to oppose.
“Improvements to our electric system are an important part of maintaining a strong grid, but the timing of such improvements – and the costs associated with them – must be weighed against the already high electricity prices that Maine people, like people across New England, are being asked to pay,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With high prices expected to continue into the coming year – which is almost entirely the result of New England’s dependence on expensive, imported natural gas – I do not believe now is the appropriate time for our utilities to seek further rate increases. I ask Versant to not to file this request, but, if they do, I will direct my Energy Office to intervene in opposition and call on the Maine Public Utilities Commission to reject the request.”
Transitioning Maine to renewable energy to reduce energy prices, along with helping Maine people and businesses with increased electricity and heating fuel prices, are priorities of the Mills Administration.
As a result of bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Mills in 2019, Maine has advanced competitive renewable energy procurements that have resulted in 24 renewable energy projects to deliver low-cost, home generated power to Maine ratepayers.
The low-cost renewable energy from three of these projects already in operation resulted in the Maine Public Utilities Commission in June approving electricity rate reductions of 5.5 percent for CMP customers and 4 percent for Versant Power customers.
If all 24 projects under this law were operational in 2022, the Governor's Energy Office estimated that Maine ratepayers would have saved 22 percent on electricity compared to the current standard offer.
On energy costs, the Mills Administration has taken several significant actions this year, including:
- Returning more than half of the state’s budget surplus to Maine people through $850 inflation relief checks;
- Pressing for increased funding and expanded eligibility for Federal heating assistance programs to help Maine households with oil bills this winter;
- Securing a one-time bill credit of $90 for tens of thousands of low-income customers of Central Maine Power and Versant;
- Providing $800 in heating cost relief to nearly 13,000 low-income households to help pay for high energy costs;
- Providing up to $1,400 in tax relief for eligible low- and middle-income Maine families and seniors;
- Signing into law LD 2010, sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, that will make a tiered credit of up to $3,000 available to Maine small businesses to offset increases in the standard offer for electricity;
- Through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Mills has invested $50 million in Federal funds to expand energy efficiency programs for Maine homeowners and renters, hospitality businesses, and municipal and school buildings through Efficiency Maine.
The Governor and Legislature have also strengthened the accountability and oversight of Maine’s electric utilities. Governor Mills this year signed historic legislation to significantly reform the state’s approach to utility oversight. This legislation, LD 1959, sets minimum service standards for service, increases penalties for substandard service, and strengthens the accountability of utilities to protect Maine people.