New Maine Legislation Would Cap Retail Pricing

In the Maine State Legislature, An Act to Limit Rates Charged by Competitive Electricity Providers (HP 192) has been sponsored by State Representative Norman Higgins (R-District 120) and referred to the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.

This bill prohibits a competitive electricity provider from charging a residential 9 consumer a rate for generation service that is higher than the rate charged for 10 standard-offer service.

Specifically, the measure provides that, “As a condition of licensing, a competitive electricity provider may not charge a residential consumer a rate for generation service that is higher than the standard-offer service rate available to residential customers in the service territory of the transmission and distribution utility that serves that consumer.”

The legislation was submitted after an investigation by the Bangor Daily News (BDN), published last November 16, found that Maine households have unnecessarily spent about $50 million on electricity over the past four years, through a competitive retail electricity market that purported to offer savings.

The study used federal data to compare default electric rates to prices in the competitive market.

In 2015 alone, the newspaper stated, Maine customers of competitive electricity providers paid a premium of $32.4 million for their power, over and above a default price set by state regulators on behalf of consumers.

In addition, another bill, An Act to Increase Transparency in Maine’s Electricity Market, (SP 86), sponsored by State Senator James Harper (R-District 19) would provide that a supplier, “Must provide to the consumer within 30 days of contracting for retail service a disclosure of information provided to the commission pursuant to rules adopted under Subsection 3 in a standard written format established by the commission.”

The measure also mandates that a retailer “may not continue generation service beyond 13 months without annual express consent from the consumer.

The second bill also has been sent to the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology for consideration.

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