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Maine PUC Requests Comments on Standard Offer Bidding

March 30, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

On March 28, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) opened Docket No. 2016-00055 to initiate a request for comments on the standard offer bidding procedure for the Emera Maine – Maine Public District (EM-MPD) service area.

Emera Maine has 154,000 customers in the Maine Public District service area. The regulated electric transmission and distribution utility has residential (49 percent), commercial (39 percent) and industrial (12 percent) ratepayers.

The PUC anticipates issuing, in June, a request for proposals (RFP) for standard offer service for the residential and small non- residential classes, as well as the medium non-residential classes, in Emera’s service territory. In addition to the traditional fixed price bids with term lengths of one to three years, the commission is considering seeking alternative structures and terms, such as a longer term bid (e.g., five years) that would be indexed to ISO-NE wholesale market prices.

The purpose of an alternative structure, according to the new filing, would be to tie EM-MPD standard offer service to prices in a competitive wholesale market, given the weakness of supply competition in the region. Although this situation may ultimately be addressed by interconnecting northern Maine with the ISO-NE region, actual construction and operation of a transmission interconnection may not occur, if at all, until several years into the future, the PUC explained.

Before proceeding with such an alternative approach, the PUC seeks comments from interested parties – to be submitted to the docket by April 11 – on the merits of seeking longer-term proposals indexed to ISO-NE prices. In addition, the commission seeks comment on other alternative structures that should be considered.

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