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Many Maine electricity customers to get lower bills as power price declines take effect

By: Darren Fishell |

Beginning this month, most residential electricity customers in Maine will receive lower bills for the power they use as price drops approved in January take effect.

Through the end of the year, standard offer customers for Central Maine Power Co. and the former Bangor Hydro Electric Co. will pay about 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour, down about 13 percent from rates for the one-year term that ended in February.

Customers buying their power through the standard offer will see those lower rates for the first time on their March bills, according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

With that drop in prices, the commission issued an advisory Tuesday to explain the state’s standard offer pricing as residential customers also can opt to buy power at different terms through a competitive electricity provider, such as Electricity Maine.

Customers that haven’t specifically selected to buy power through a competitive electricity provider get the standard offer price. Power providers are not allowed by state law to charge customers for switching from a competitive supplier to the standard offer, or vice versa.

Competitive providers have lost some share of the residential market in recent months after quickly picking up customers when wholesale power prices were low in 2011.

In November 2013, about one-third of CMP customers and 15 percent of Emera Maine’s Bangor Hydro district customers got their power through competitive electricity providers. In January, those figures were down to about 25 percent in CMP territory and about 9 percent in the former Bangor Hydro territory.

According to the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, no competitive electricity providers are cheaper than the standard offer price, which will be in effect through Dec. 31.