New blood in Maine’s electricity market

ELLSWORTH — There’s a new dog in Maine’s electricity market. That fact became abundantly clear at the end of February, when it seems everyone and his mother received an offer in the mail from North American Power.

“Beginning March 2014, Bangor Hydro’s standard offer supply rate is proposed to increase by over 10%,” the letter said. “Because of Energy Choice in Maine, you can switch to North American Power [NAP] to avoid this rate increase.”

At the moment, at least, that marketing isn’t baloney. Ever since the state deregulated its electricity market in 2000, residents have paid for either “standard offer” power (at a price determined through the state), or for power from private, competitive suppliers. Unless you’ve signed a contract with a private company, you automatically pay the standard offer rate.

Those options make up the “Energy Choice” referred to in the mailing of NAP, a power company based in Norwalk, Conn., that over the summer was approved by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to serve Mainers.

According to the website of the Maine Office of Public Advocate, which compares power rates, NAP is currently the cheapest. A customer receiving standard offer electricity via the power lines of Emera Maine (which acquired Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. in 2002) pays 7.58 cents per kilowatt hour.

But if the same customer signs up for six months of NAP at a fixed rate, he pays 6.69 cents per kilowatt hour.

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Charles Eichacker

Charles Eichacker

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Charles Eichacker covers the towns of Bucksport, Orland, Castine, Verona Island, Penobscot, Brooksville and Dedham. When not working on stories, he likes books, beer and the outdoors. [email protected]