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CMP bills increase by nearly $1; additional $3 proposed

Effective Monday, $0.85 was added to the average CMP customer’s monthly bill. An increase proposal, if adopted, would add another $3 this October.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Central Maine Power customers' monthly bills are increasing by nearly $1, and possibly by an additional $3, the utility company announced Monday.

According to CMP, the Maine Public Utilities Commission, or MPUC, directed an annual overall delivery price adjustment for all Maine customers.

That increase, effective Monday, adds $0.85 to the average bill.

Separately, through a revision of its October 2018 rate case, CMP is proposing a specific increase to the electric distribution rate, which according to the company has not been reset by the MPUC since 2014.

The filing, if adopted, would require a revenue increase of $46.5 million, corresponding with a 10.65% increase in CMP's delivery price, which equates to an additional $5 per month for those using about 550 kWh monthly.

Overall, that proposal would increase bills by an additional $3.

"CMP recognizes that these rate proposals come at a time when the company has come under scrutiny for the roll out of its SmartCare system in 2017 as well as questions about our handling of customer concerns at that same time,” President and CEO Doug Herling said in a statement. “As outlined here, the rate changes reflect a host of factors, most of which are aimed at assuring reliable service, improved customer care, improved storm resiliency and better response time during storm outages. I ask our customers to continue to demand and expect quality response and service and hold us to the very highest standard. We are working to regain their trust."

The annual adjustment is described as comprising of five components: distribution costs, stranded costs, Efficiency Maine Trust assessments, low income program assessments, and transmission costs.

CMP's breakdown of its delivery price adjustment includes about a $23 million decrease in distribution costs, due to "completed recovery of costs from the October 2017 windstorm" and "removal of the roughly $19 million of related costs currently in CMP distribution rates"; an increase in stranded costs, due to the use of a one-time credit related to spent nuclear fuel litigation proceeds now fully refunded to customers; a 9% increase to transmission costs set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, after 2018's 8.5% decrease; and no change to the Electricity Lifeline Program, which funds the Home Energy Assistance Program. The component related to Efficiency Maine Trust is to be determined, according to CMP, which says proceedings regarding funding are ongoing at the MPUC, but are expected to increase.

CMP said its revenue increase requirement proposal would account "for additional staff in electric operations and customer service departments; investment in strengthening the grid – particularly in automation and circuit management; and improving tree care in rights of way to prevent outages."

MPUC is scheduled to decide on CMP’s proposal. If approved, the $3 bill increase would be implemented in October.