DATE: June 19, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Jane Margesson, AARP Maine Communications Director
(207) 229-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maine Public Utility Commission Rules on Emera Maine Rate Case
AARP Maine Disappointed that Utility Giant’s Latest Requested Rate Hike Results in 5.34% Increase
PORTLAND: Earlier today, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled on Docket 2017-00198 and approved a distribution rate increase of 5.34 percent, equaling an additional $4.46 million for Emera Maine, the state’s second-largest utility company. This marks the third rate increase by the utility giant in just five years.
Emera Maine’s original request was for a 12 percent, or a $10 million increase. The PUC’s staff analyzed the case and recommended an increase of 5.28 percent. It is unfortunate that the PUC increased that recommendation to 5.34 percent. This new rate increase will be applied to the distribution rate portion of customers’ bills which is approximately one-third of the entire monthly bill.
“AARP Maine is extremely disappointed that the PUC chose to approve this latest rate increase, and is dismayed that the Commissioners increased the rate even more than the PUC staff recommended,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “Many customers, particularly those who are older and on fixed incomes, will find any rate increase to be a cause of hardship. Emera Maine’s coverage areas include some of the state’s most rural and low-income communities.”
AARP Maine and the Maine Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) strongly pushed the PUC to hold three live public witness hearings in Orono, Machias and Presque Isle. “It was important to our members and their families that they have the opportunity to make their voices heard in person before the Commissioners,” said Parham.
More than 80 individuals attended the three hearings, with 27 choosing to speak publicly about the affect Emera Maine’s rate increase request would have on their well-being. In addition, more than 700 comments from residents across Emera Maine’s coverage area were collected by AARP Maine and submitted into the PUC’s public record.
“I want to thank AARP Maine for their commitment to giving Mainers the opportunity to attend the hearings and submit their comments,” said Barry Hobbins, Maine’s Public Advocate. “The turnout at these hearings and the number of public comments submitted were instrumental in the process, and I want to thank every Mainer who took the time to raise their voice on this important issue.”
AARP’s advocacy on behalf of Emera Maine customers is far from over. Emera Maine recently received a multi-million dollar tax break through the Federal Tax Act earlier this year; savings meant to be passed on to consumers. AARP Maine agrees with the PUC and the OPA’s recommendation that all Maine utilities, including Emera Maine, immediately pass along the savings from the Tax Act to their customers.
“Emera Maine’s proposal to pocket the tax savings from January to June is beyond belief. No utility in the country has made such a ridiculous claim,” said Parham. “A number of other utility providers have already distributed the Tax Act savings to their customers, resulting in rate reductions, not hikes. AARP Maine will continue to engage our members on this critical issue and insist that the millions of dollars owed to customers are distributed quickly and efficiently by Emera Maine as soon as possible.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into 'Real Possibilities' by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @aarp and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.