Crews work to remove a large downed tree on Foreside Road in Falmouth on Dec. 18. CMP submitted a request on Friday to have ratepayers reimburse the utility $162 million for the cost of restoring power after the December storm and two others in 2023. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Central Maine Power Co. asked state regulators Friday to authorize a $162 million reimbursement – a near-record – to cover the costs of restoring power after three destructive storms last year. The money would be paid by ratepayers over two years.

“CMP recognizes the significant level of recovery being requested and aims to strike an appropriate balance between minimizing near-term bill impacts and creating long-term deferrals that may create even larger pricing challenges in the future,” it told the Public Utilities Commission in its filing.

The utility said it is willing to discuss alternative “cost recovery timing mechanisms” proposed by the commission’s staff and intervenors as the case proceeds. It serves over 635,000 customers in Maine.

Maine was battered by three storms in 2023: A nor’easter in mid-March; Atlantic storm Lee that pounded a large part of New England and Maritime Canada in September, leaving one person in Maine dead; and a destructive wind and rain storm Dec. 18 that killed four people and left 400,000 customers without power.

CMP said the amount is largely driven by what it characterizes as Tier 3 storms on March 14, Sept.16 and Dec. 18. Tier 3 storms are the costliest in repair work, at more than $15 million for each storm. Repairs for Tier 1 storms are less than $3.5 million and Tier 2 storms require work costing between $3.5 million and $15 million, according to CMP.

Five storms qualified as Tier 2, on Jan. 23 and 25, May 1 and Dec. 4 and 10, the utility said.


The PUC will decide how to structure the payments – over one year or several – and how much CMP may bill ratepayers to compensate for repairs. As a result, CMP said it’s too early to say what a rate change would amount to for customers when it would go into effect July 1.

Regulators will decide “approximately” in April how much the utility may charge customers and will set a payment schedule and allocate rates for residential and business customers, CMP said.

Repair work includes everything from employee overtime to housing for out-of-state workers and repair and replacement of power lines, poles and other equipment.

For example, CMP replaced 1,200 poles following the December storm, spokesperson Jon Breed said. Depending on its size and type, a wooden pole costs about $1,000 and replacing one pole requires several workers, equipment and a few hours, he said.

CMP cited a request Feb. 23 by Gov. Janet Mills to President Biden estimating the cost of severe storms on Jan. 10 and 13 at $70.3 million in public infrastructure damage. She asked Biden to issue a major disaster declaration to help Maine’s eight coastal counties.

Storm costs have been escalating steadily since 2014, according to CMP, as worries mount that the impacts of climate change are no longer a future concern but are beginning to be seen in costly storm damage experienced by utilities, property owners, insurance companies and others.


CMP storm costs were $32.3 million 10 years ago and have marched upward, with exceptions in 2015 when no major storms hit Maine, 2018 when recovery costs were $4.5 million, and in 2021 when costs were about $11 million.

Since 2019, storm costs have risen from $37.5 million to $71.8 million in 2020, $119 million in 2022 and to $161.7 million last year.

If the PUC approves the higher rates, it will be particularly disappointing to consumers who received welcome news last November when regulators approved sharply lower rates for 2024, about $30 a month on average, to reflect falling natural gas prices.

Each of the storms last year was different, but had a similar result: a loss of power for tens of thousands, or more, electricity customers. A slow-moving nor’easter in mid-March packed wind gusts of up to 50 mph, causing tree branches to fall on power lines and cutting power to nearly 75,000 CMP customers.

Atlantic Storm Lee last September at one point knocked out power to 11% of electricity customers in Maine.

And the storm that pounded the state a week before Christmas left many roads impassable, hindering efforts for days as repair crews could not get access to damaged equipment.

No public comments on CMP’s request had been posted online by late Friday afternoon, about two hours after regulators posted the utility’s filing.

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