In reacting to the expected major increase in Central Maine Power rates resulting from a new federal transmission charge, the Maine Public Utilities Commission spokesperson was quoted in your report as saying that the effect would be the same for a consumer-owned utility.

That’s only half correct and, thus, misleading. Unfortunately, it came in the midst of a campaign for a public power referendum.

A consumer-owned utility that is a transmission customer of CMP would see the same increase, as the PUC representative said. But if a Pine Tree Power replaced CMP as a transmission owner, its customers would experience a lower increase.

Here’s why: The federal transmission adjustment charge, an increased cost to be paid by customers to encourage more high-voltage lines, will yield increased utility profits. For CMP, that goes to its shareholder-owners. For Pine Tree Power, it would go to its customers.

The rate increase is unfortunate. Its effect on customers would be less for the proposed consumer-owned utility than for CMP. The PUC should clarify its statement.

Gordon L. Weil

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