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Maine PUC Warns Businesses to Prepare for High Electric Prices

October 10, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

maineState energy officials in Maine are encouraging businesses to prepare for a sharp rise in electricity prices this winter.

According to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, these price increases will be most pronounced for medium-sized business customers on the standard offer, as well as for customers whose electricity price fluctuates with time of use.

For example, the price of the electricity supply for a medium-sized commercial and industrial customer, such as a grocery store or a small saw mill, under the Standard Offer rate in Central Maine Power’s territory will rise from 6 cents/kWh this month up to 15 cents/kWh in January.

This will be the highest monthly price for these customers since 2008, according to Maine PUC. For a typical customer – without any mitigating measures – this would increase their monthly electricity bill by more than $1,100 compared to their current bill (the electricity supply portion of their bill would increase from $870 per month in September to over $2,000 per month in January).

The principal cause of these electricity price increases is the high cost of natural gas delivered to New England in the winter months, which translates into higher prices for the region’s gas-fired electric generators, or use of more expensive generators powered by other fuels such as coal and oil.

According to Platts, Efficiency Maine has received PUC approval to more than double its annual budget for large customers to about $13 million.

Maine PUC suggests business customers prepare for winter as follows:

  • All businesses can access Efficiency Maine discounts and rebates on high-efficiency lights, which can cut usage as much as 75 percent.
  • Business customers can also look to Efficiency Maine for financial incentives that will speed the payback on new equipment installations for such things as high-efficiency air compressors, commercial refrigerators, pumps and drives.
  • Another short-term option is to schedule voluntary reductions in energy use during peak winter demand periods.

Conversely, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) issued its October 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook, forecasting that temperatures this winter will be warmer than last winter, which will result in less demand for heat. EIA says that although electricity prices are expected to be higher this winter, the warmer temperatures and lessened demand will keep costs in check.

Photo: Maine via Shutterstock

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