When the Public Utilities Commission approved the transition to smart meters, it was decided that anyone maintaining an analog meter would be assessed a fee for the costs associated with maintaining that original meter. The opt-out fee for Central Maine Power customers was approved by the Public Utilities Commission to be structured so that the costs of maintaining the original meters were recovered by the fee. The OPA supported this fee structure as it keeps rates lower for ratepayers, but is aware that as the number of opt-out participants decreases the cost per each opt out customer increases. The initial fee was set based on an estimated number of customers who kept their original meters and the expenses to serve that population. The number of customers was lower than estimated and each month more convert to the new meters. However, this doesn’t decrease program costs by the same amount.
Central Maine Power is required to file all rate increase with the Commission and obtain approval before raising rates. CMP filed for this latest increase with the Commission in the last Spring and the rates went into effect on July 1st. As the number of program participants changes, CMP can file for an adjustment in the opt-out fee in their annual filing each Spring. The legal matter of charging an opt-out fee has been settled as a matter of law through the Public Utilities Commission and through the Maine Supreme Court.