Versant Power Distribution Rate Request

Versant Power Distribution Rate Request
Versant Power Distribution Rate Request(Gray tv)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:49 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Versant Power announced they are seeking the rate change to continue maintaining and improving customers access to electricity in Northern and Eastern Maine. They are looking to seek this change in distribution rates beginning in the summer of 2023.

Versant says they plan to use these funds to:

·  Replace our metering system, which has reached the end of its useful life

·  Replace deteriorating cables that provide electricity to customers on islands off the coast of Maine

·  Build a new substation in Machias, improving reliability and replacing equipment near Bad Little Falls with a more environmentally friendly solution

·  Continue our work to improve reliability in the Old Town/Orono area

·  Install additional equipment in northern Maine to prevent tree-related outages and reduce the impact and duration of outages that do occur

·  Make continued improvements to our tree trimming program to reduce the number of power outages and harden the system against storms

·  Invest in our technology, keeping customer and other sensitive data secure

·  Retain quality employees in a competitive labor market

For the average residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours per month, this change would mean an increase of about $10.50 per month. For a customer using 750 kwh, it would result in a $15 to $16 increase, and for 1,000 kwh, an increase of about $21.

Versant Power says they are deliberately not seeking an opportunity to earn greater return on investments as part of this request.

All Versant Power customers will receive a letter that includes information about how they can stay informed and involved in the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s evaluation of our request. The process for a distribution rate change is subject to nearly a year of review and allows customers and stakeholders to weigh in on the potential change. Versant Power expects a rigorous review of our request.

This request involves a change to the distribution rate, one of five rates that make up customer bills. Versant Power seeks permission from the Maine Public Utilities Commission or the Federal Regulatory Commission for any change to transmission or distribution rates, which represent the cost to bring electricity from where it is made to your home or business.

Versant Power says they recognize the importance of continued investment in the reliability and resiliency of the system as Maine moves toward greater electrification of its economy and integration of more renewable resources.

The office of the Public Advocate is expressing doubt in the need for a 28% distribution rate increase for Versant Power.  “The timing of Versant’s proposed increase is unfortunate,” says Maine’s Public Advocate William Harwood. “Mainers are already struggling to pay high energy costs, including the January 1st increase in standard offer prices of more than 80%. Now, Versant looks to increase the average residential bill by $10.50 per month.”  He went on to say, “the nearly 160,000 families served by Versant are already struggling under the burden of increases in the cost of living, the last thing they need is for their electric bills to go up by 9 percent.”

The OPA will be evaluating Versant’s justification for its $30 million requested rate increase. Harwood says his office will look carefully for any evidence of imprudently incurred costs which should not be passed on to ratepayers.

Governor Janet Mills also weighed in on the topic, calling on Versant not to file the rate request.  She said if they do, she will direct the energy office to intervene in opposition and encouraged the Public Utilities Commission to reject it.  Mills says, “With high prices expected to continue into the coming year – which is almost entirely the result of New England’s dependence on expensive, imported natural gas – I do not believe now is the appropriate time for our utilities to seek further rate increases.”

For more information about the request, visit the Distribution Rate Request page on Versant Power’s website or connect with Versant on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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