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December 5, 2022

Talks continue on governor's heating relief proposal

Gov. Janet Mills said she plans to unveil her proposal to help low- and middle-income Mainers pay their heating bills this winter by Wednesday amid continued talks with state lawmakers.

“The Legislature and I share a commitment to providing financial relief to Maine people to help them remain safe and secure in their homes this winter," Mills said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

"My office has had productive conversations with Democratic and Republican legislative leadership this week, and I am optimistic that we are close to finalizing a bipartisan agreement for an emergency winter energy relief plan," she said.

Members of the 131st Legislature are scheduled to be sworn-in Dec. 7, when lawmakers will also formally elect the Senate president and speaker of the House to succeed Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, who did not run for reelection. Fecteau, an affordable housing advocate, was recently honored on the Mainebiz 40 under 40 list. He will be succeeded as House speaker by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, who has been nominated by House Democrats.

Promising to unveil her heating-relief proposal before lawmakers convene, Mills said, "I extend my gratitude to legislative leadership for their continued good-faith work.”

The average statewide heating oil price was $5.08 as of Nov. 28, up 61% from $3.16 a year ago, according to the latest data from the Governor's Energy Office.

In addition, business and residential customers of Central Maine Power Co. and Versant Power face higher electricity bills in 2023 under plans approved last month by Maine's utility regulator.

The rate increases are set to take effect on Jan. 1, and apply to customers who do not choose to purchase electricity from a competitive supplier and instead receive Standard Offer Supply by default.

Maine's Public Utilities Commission said the price hikes reflect current regional electric power market conditions, which are strongly influenced by natural gas, as well as costs to ensure regional power supply reliability.

Maine electricity bills are broken into two parts, for supply and delivery. CMP and Versant provide delivery only, but include supply costs as a line item in the monthly bill sent to customers.

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