Friday, July 5, 2024

Barbara Bagshaw: Electricity rates going up again despite efforts by Republicans to lower them

By State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently announced that our electricity bills will rise again in July. It shouldn’t surprise anyone – legislative Republicans and Maine’s Public Advocate have been warning Mainers about this for years. I joined with my fellow Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, to try and lower rates this past session. Special interests and the majority of Democrats in Augusta refused to listen. Now we will all pay the price.

State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw
Residential ratepayers and now many of Maine’s businesses will start paying higher amounts of what is called the stranded cost portion of your electric bill. Simply put, this is the part of the bill where you subsidize the solar panels that have popped up across Maine, even if you do not benefit from them. You may have heard it called “Net Energy Billing.”

Electricity supply rates have already increased 76 percent higher on average since January 2021. The current increase on top of that is due to misguided state policies that reward out of state solar companies at the expense of Maine consumers. Simply put, wind and solar companies are paid .20 cents per kilowatt for a product that costs as little as .05 cents to generate.

This part of our bill is not because of Versant or CMP – they are required to pass the increase from solar on to you as part of their bill. The legislature is responsible for this one because of the excessive solar subsidies mandated through Net Energy Billing and other hidden subsidy costs.

** Standard offer rates increased 132.06 percent between 2014 and 2023 because of more expensive solar required under the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

** The Public Utilities Commission says we must pay even more for solar subsidies.

** For CMP, stranded costs will go up 93 percent to $183 million.

** Versant’s Bangor Hydro District remains about the same but Maine Public – the one that serves northern Maine – is going up 60 percent.

** Some businesses will be subject to a “job-killing solar tax,” with one small business bill going up over 1,660 percent. Another medium-size business will see its bill rise from $431.56 a month to $3,494.46 (709.73 percent increase).

** Maine’s nonpartisan Public Advocate Bill Harwood says it will cost $4 billion over 20 years. In a May 12 interview with WGME, he said: “It requires CMP and Versant power to pay approximately 20 cents per kilowatt hour for solar energy that costs less than 10 cents a kilowatt hour to generate," Harwood said. "They then make up this difference by adding it to the rates charged to rate payers."

It is important to point out that I and other legislative Republicans are not against rooftop solar. It should be a consumer choice. What I am against is requiring lower to middle income ratepayers to subsidize projects that they cannot afford or do not benefit from. It is wrong!

It is an honor to represent part of Windham in the Legislature. If there is any way that I can be of assistance, please contact me at .My office phone number is 207-287-1440. You can find me on Facebook. To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at <

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