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June 11, 2024

CMP, public advocate reach settlement over 2022 storm recovery costs

CMP truck in winter File photo / Courtesy, CMP Central Maine Power Co. said that its settlement with the public advocate's office over 2022 storm recovery costs "is not an admission by CMP of any imprudent action in terms of its storm response."

Central Maine Power Co. and the state Office of the Public Advocate have agreed to a settlement that would reduce storm recovery costs charged to ratepayers by $850,000.

CMP had initially sought to be reimbursed $117 million over two years for its efforts to restore power after several storms in 2022, plus more than $10 million in carrying costs for storm balances, according to the 13-page agreement.

Generally, the state's electric utilities are permitted to recover some storm costs from ratepayers provided the expenditures meet a utility's emergency response plan and are deemed “prudently incurred” by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

In the case of the 2022 storm expenditures, the Office of the Public Advocate cited concerns over excessive external contractor costs, CMP’s lack of evidence for some costs, and the company's failure to provide contracts for most of its storm contractors. Central Maine Power has denied claims of overspending.

Maine's utilities regulator is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the settlement agreement, which would be reflected in CMP's price change as of Jan. 1, 2025.

“If approved, this represents an important acknowledgement that some of the costs were both excessive and poorly documented,” Maine Public Advocate William Harwood said. He also called on CMP to work with his office in coming months to minimize the number of outages from future storms.

“It’s OPA’s belief that CMP should shift a substantial amount of its spending from restoration to prevention,” he said. “Currently, CMP is spending too much cleaning up after the storm and too little before the storm, protecting its system from damage. We hope that this settlement results in that desired shifting of costs.” 

He also said that his agency will remain vigilant against all overspending by regulated utilities that serve Maine ratepayers.

CMP 'ready to uphold commitments'

In a statement, CMP said it hopes the settlement “will lead to productive action and long-term solutions to the damage to our state’s grid caused by the stronger, more frequent storms Maine is experiencing.”
The company also noted that the settlement "is not an admission by CMP of any imprudent action in terms of its storm response, and that there is is no basis for the OPA’s claims of overspending by CMP in order to restore its customers’ power after storms."

"Despite the surprising, disappointing and misleading statements from the OPA on this important agreement, CMP stands ready to uphold its commitments and to work collaboratively on the reduction of storm costs with that office," the company said.

Central Maine Power is the state's largest electric utility, responsible for transmission and distribution of power to 653,000 customers over an 11,000 square-mile service area in central and southern Maine. The company has headquarters in Augusta and is part of Avangrid Inc. (NYSE: AGR), based in Orange, Conn.

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