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Maine electricity costs to go down

By: Maine Sun Journal |

As gasoline prices drop to under $2 a gallon in some parts of Maine, consumers got more good news Tuesday.

The cost of electricity for residents and small- and medium-size businesses is going down, according to prices set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

The PUC announced Tuesday new prices for Central Maine Power standard offer customers. Beginning March 1, residential and small businesses will pay 6.54 cents per kilowatt, compared to the current 7.56 cents per kilowatt, a 13.4 percent decrease.

The new prices apply only to standard offer service, which reflects 40 percent of sales in CMP’s service area. The prices don’t apply to customers who buy their electricity supply from Electricity Maine and other suppliers in the market.

For medium-size business customers, prices are going down about 17.3 percent, according to the PUC. The medium-size business prices differ month to month and will average 6.44 cents per kilowatt. The range will be from 5.21 cents in May to 9.5 cents in December.

For customers who receive standard offer electricity, the PUC requires periodic competitive bidding on prices. The new prices are effective for 10 months beginning March 1. The prices were set after competitive bidding.

With the demand of natural gas high in Maine’s winter, the timing of the bidding pricing was changed to try to minimize the risk of bidders, and lock in good prices for consumers, PUC Commissioner Chairman Mark Vannoy said.

Earlier this year, it was expected electric prices would be higher,” Vannoy said. “We started to see a decrease in December. We were cautiously optimistic we would get good pricing. We’re very happy,” he said, adding the lower prices should help consumers.

It’s difficult to predict whether low energy prices will continue, especially given the strong demand for natural gas in the region, Vannoy said.

Bids for large business customers are indexed to the market, and will be set by the commission in advance of each month.