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December 6, 2018

Emera Maine standard-offer customers face price hikes in 2019

At a glance

Electricity customers in Maine receive standard offer service if they have not purchased supply from another retail supplier or through an aggregator. Currently, standard-offer service represents about 60% of the supply used by Emera Maine customers. Maine law requires the Maine Public Utilities Commission to ensure that standard-offer service for electricity supply is available to all customers in Maine. The PUC arranges for standard-offer service through periodic competitive bid processes.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission accepted bids in a competitive solicitation that will increase standard-offer electricity prices for customers of Emera Maine-Bangor Hydro District next year.

The new prices will take effect for 12 months starting on Jan. 1.

For Emera Maine residential and small business customers who receive standard offer supply service, the accepted bids result in new standard offer prices equating to 8.37 cents/kilowatt hour, which is a 15.8% increase compared to the supply price during 2018, according to the PUC's news release. Looking at the total residential bill combining supply and delivery service, an average residential customer who receives standard offer supply service could expect to see an increase of about 6.5% in their total monthly bill, PUC stated.

For Emera Maine medium business customers, the new prices differ by month, equating to about 9.03 cents/kWh on an annual average basis, varying from 6.7 cents/kWh in June 2019 to 14.5 cents/kWh in February 2019. These medium class prices are about 11.4% higher than prices during the same twelve month period last year.

Prices for large business customers will be indexed to market prices and set in advance of each month, as was done last year for large business standard offer service.

These new prices apply only to Emera customers that select standard offer supply service, which reflects about 60% of the sales in Emera Maine's service area, PUC stated. The prices do not apply to customers that purchase their own electricity supply in the market.

"The standard offer prices set this week reflect the best bids received from a competitive auction process," said PUC Chairman Mark Vannoy. "The price increases are driven by increases in wholesale energy market prices in New England which, in turn, are driven by constraints on the availability of natural gas."

Vannoy noted that standard offer prices for Central Maine Power customers will be set next week.

Vannoy said a press release from the ISO-New England last week stated the region's natural gas delivery infrastructure has expanded only incrementally, while reliance on natural gas as the predominant fuel for both power generation and heating continues to grow.

"The region needs to address New England's natural gas infrastructure needs," he said.

The names of the suppliers selected for Emera Maine will be released in two weeks, allowing time for power supply arrangements to be finalized.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission 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. Commission programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service and Dig Safe.

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