Central Maine Power customers will see their electric bills rise July 1 by more than $10 a month – a culmination of increases tied to renewable energy policies, a settled rate case, and annual adjustments for storm restoration and other expenses.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved an increase to recover so-called stranded costs, such as above-market costs for residential and community solar power under the state’s net-energy billing program. That approval alone adds a monthly charge of $5.95 to what a typical CMP residential customer pays, based on a home that uses 550 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month.

Together with other increases, the total comes to roughly $10.26 a month, or $123 a year.

Residential customers of Versant Power in its Bangor Hydro District will see a combined average rate hike of $17.59 a month, or $211 a year, while customers in Versant’s Maine Public District will pay an additional $12.53 a month, or $150 a year.

These increases come after the PUC on June 6 approved a negotiated hike for CMP’s electricity distribution rates, which will increase a typical home’s total electric bill by just over 1%, or $1.67, in July, and go up to roughly $5 a month by the middle of 2025.

In May, the PUC approved a similar settlement with Versant under which customers will see their total electricity bills rise by roughly 4% – an average of $5.25 a month – starting July 1.


“As with the recent distribution rate increase, we understand that any increase is not ideal and comes at a time when people are already impacted by inflation,” Commission Chair Philip Bartlett said. “These costs are the result of policies enacted to advance Maine’s transition to renewable energy and help achieve Maine’s climate goals.”

Lawmakers have been debating ways to reform the net-energy billing program in order to minimize future stranded costs, but the causes and scope of the rate hikes are in dispute.

Maine’s public advocate, Bill Harwood, has said that the subsidies for community solar projects are too generous and he wants the Legislature to dramatically scale back the net energy billing program.

The solar industry has pushed back on that charge. In a statement Tuesday following the PUC’s deliberations, the Coalition for Community Solar Access and the Maine Renewable Energy Association blamed the stranded cost rate hikes on faulty numbers calculated by the utilities, based on an inflated number of projects expected to come online.

“Less than one-third of the rate increases requested will cover actually incurred net-energy billing costs,” the groups said. “The vast majority of the rate hike is based upon erroneous assumptions and unsubstantiated claims.”

The groups called on lawmakers to pass L.D. 1986, a reform bill that remains in play in the final days of the legislative session.


Criticism of the new rate hikes also came from Our Power, a group proposing a public takeover of CMP and Versant, Maine’s two largest investor-owned utilities.

“(The utilities) are continuing to make rates skyrocket. No matter what they say, they’re trying to use creative math to make it sound like it’s not a big increase,” said Lucy Hochschartner, an Our Power spokesperson.

“They’re really trying to run campaigns of confusion and misinformation and fear. And that’s what we’re seeing with all the language coming out about these numbers.”

A spokesman for Central Maine Power disagreed with the characterization. “Our company knows that costs are rising across the board – we talk about it every day here,” said Jon Breed. “That’s why we worked very hard to settle our rate case in a way that balances rate stability vs. needed grid investment.”

He pointed out that CMP is a regulated business, and said the outcome of the rate hike deliberations “was presented and approved by the PUC in a transparent way.”

Following the deliberations, Bartlett said despite the short-term increases, reducing Maine’s dependence on natural gas and oil and the associated greenhouse gas emissions will help drive down costs over the long term and increase resiliency in the distribution system.

CMP distributes electricity to about 650,000 customers in southern and central Maine, while Versant serves 165,000 customers in northern and eastern areas of the state.

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