Maine House District 47

A Bad Rap

Mon, 10/23/2023 - 4:15pm

I have no idea what you pay for electric energy.  I'm sure each of us uses different amounts of energy.  I was shocked by my electric bill of $342.74 for September (2023).  Last September's (2022) bill was for $215.92, an increase of 59%. 

Comparing the two bills, I noticed that this year I had consumed 1240 kilowatt hours (kwh) of energy compared to 990 kwh last year, an increase of 25%.  Not a surprise, since I'm using more electric equipment today, including heat pumps, than I did a year ago.  My usage increased by 25% but my bill increased by 59%. 

The electric bill includes a cost for the energy used (60.2%) and a cost for the delivery or distribution (CMP) (37.8%)  and a different State Sales Tax associated with each of these costs (a combined sales tax of 2.0%).  

A comparison of rates (¢/kwh) from one year to the next is an indication of what changed.  The energy rate went from 11.8 ¢/kwh to 16.6 ¢/kwh, an increase of 41%.  The increase in the rate of energy accounts for a major portion of the increase.  The State Sales Tax rate went from 1.3% to 2.0%, an increase of 60%. 

The cost of distribution (CMP) includes two different rates one for the first 50 kwh and another rate for the energy above 50 kwh.  The combined rate increased from 9.7 ¢/kwh to 10.5 ¢/kwh, an increase of 8%.  Without being privy to the rate calculations, an increase of 8% does not seem unreasonable, considering the distributor (CMP) is faced with both inflation and the requirement to upgrade facilities to accommodate renewable energy sources.  

The major increase in my bill is due to the increase in the cost of energy.  Central Maine Power does not generate electric energy.  The State separated energy generation from distribution decades ago.  CMP receives energy from the producers, maintains the grid, distributes energy to the consumers and serves as the bill collector.  CMP has no control over energy rates.  The rates are established by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.  CMP gets a bad rap for the increases in our bills, although they are not responsible for the greatest part of the bill or the increases.  CMP is not the problem. 

From my point of view Question 3 is a bad idea.  What is most likely to happen if approved by the voters?  Pine Tree Power would incur significant debt ($7 to $10 billion).  That debt or liability of the company is not a general obligation or moral obligation of the State.  We the consumers would repay the debt with a rate increase.   

The Pine Tree Power's purpose is to develop and deploy renewable generation, storage, efficiency and beneficial electrification technologies; to assist the State in rapidly meeting or exceeding the climate action plan goals and to advance economic, environmental and social justice and to benefit company workers and all communities in the State.  All of which sound like future rate increases to me.