The Mills Administration also intervened in Maine PUC proceeding to oppose a similar rate increase filed by Central Maine Power
At the direction of Governor Janet Mills, the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) today intervened in opposition to Versant Power’s filing for an electricity rate increase with the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Governor Mills previously called on Versant not to file the rate request.
In its filing, Versant is seeking a 32% increase in its distribution rate for electricity, which if approved, would raise bills for average residential customers by about $13 per month, or about $156 annually, starting in the summer of 2023.
Versant’s request comes at a time of high electricity prices —driven by global energy market volatility from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and exacerbated by New England’s dependence on natural gas — that are now harming Maine families and businesses and are expected to continue into next year.
Also at the direction of Governor Mills, the GEO in August intervened against a three-year rate increase filed by Central Maine Power that, if approved, would raise electric bills on average residential customers by approximately $10 per month, or $120 per year. The PUC’s review of that filing is expected to conclude by September 2023.
“I have directed my energy office to intervene with the PUC to oppose Versant’s request because Maine people are already grappling with high electric bills and this request would only make matters worse,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I agree with strengthening our electric system, but the timing must be balanced against costs now facing Maine people and businesses today. These filings from CMP and Versant are not in the best interest of Maine people, and my Administration opposes them.”
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 advanced competitive 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.
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.
To address rising 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;
- Successfully pressing for increased funding 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 (PDF) 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;
- Signing legislation that led the Maine PUC to establish lower electricity rates for Maine homes and businesses with high energy consumption starting this month.
- Investing $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.