Price changes that can add or subtract millions of dollars to the cost of delivering electricity are tallied through a process that plays out like a complicated bookkeeping exercise and attracts little public attention.

The most recent case, in which Central Maine Power won approval to collect an additional $56 million on June 30, 2016, didn’t receive one public comment.

CMP and Emera Maine, the state’s largest electric utilities, no longer generate power; they distribute it to homes and businesses. The rates for providing this service are set in multi-year agreements by the Public Utilities Commission, with provisions for annual adjustments.

The utilities estimate how much money should be collected in bills, and how the costs should be allocated among customer categories ranging from homes to paper mills. Each year, variances in actual costs and revenues are combined with updated estimates for the coming year. These up or down changes influence rates for the next year.

The utilities’ annual accounting of costs and revenues is reviewed by lawyers and analysts at the PUC in a public proceeding. Parties that participate include the Maine Office of Public Advocate, which acts on behalf of customers, and the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, which represents large manufacturers. Meetings on the rate adjustments are open to the public, and documents and transcripts filed in the case can be read online.

In many instances, the parties settle the case by an agreement that must be approved by the three PUC commissioners in a public session. Cases not resolved by settlement ultimately go before the commission for a ruling.