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May 16, 2018

Customers voice opposition to Emera's rate increase request

Maine Public Utilities Commission public hearings on Emera Maine's latest distribution rate increase request drew widespread opposition from the utility's customers.

The Quoddy Tides reported that 82 Emera Maine customers, appearing at hearings held at the University of Maine at Machias, Orono and Presque Isle, voiced opposition to Emera Maine's request for a 12% rate increase.

A Machias resident said that electric rates there, in the "poorest and oldest" county in Maine, are the 11th highest in the United States.

On Oct. 2, 2017, Emera Maine filed a proposed rate increase with the PUC, asking that the company's total revenue requirement for its distribution infrastructure and operations be increased by $10 million to $93.8 million, which would result in a 12% increase. In its cover letter, Emera Maine stated that for "a residential customer with typical usage of 500 kWh per month, this represents an increase of approximately 4% to 5% in total electricity costs or an increase of approximately $3.60 per month."

The three-member commission expects to issue its decision in this case in June. The Maine PUC regulates electric, telephone, water and gas utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility service at rates that are just and reasonable for all ratepayers

According to a news release from AARP Maine, since 2013, Emera Maine's rates have increased by over 12%.

"AARP Maine strongly opposes Emera Maine's latest request to raise their rates," Amy Gallant, AARP Maine advocacy director testified at the hearing in Machias. "Raising electric rates, yet again, is unaffordable for many Mainers, especially for those living on a fixed income." Gallant submitted 570 petitions from AARP members, many of whom are Emera Maine customers, into the public record as part of her testimony.

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