Doug Herling, CEO of Central Maine Power, said the utility is still completing an internal audit on complaints of high customer bills, but so far its new billing system and smart meters don't appear to be contributing to artificially increasing customer usage. Credit: Courtesy of Central Maine Power

Central Maine Power, which has been trying to repair its reputation after criticism for unusually high electricity bills following the October 2017 wind storm, said Monday it has filed with the state regulators to use savings from federal tax law changes to keep certain prices stable and improve its electric system.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017 cut the corporate tax rate to a flat 21 percent. Some businesses passed along the tax savings in the form of bonuses to employees, while others applied the money to operating expenses.

CMP said it proposed in a Maine Public Utilities Commission filing that it use the tax savings to keep its distribution prices stable. It also wants to make its electric system more resilient.

Monday’s submission comes in response to a PUC order issued in July for a general rate investigation. CMP’s distribution rates were last reset in 2014.

The distribution charge is the part of the electric bill covering costs for billing, reading meters or using advanced metering, and for equipment and maintenance. Other parts of the bill not included in CMP’s filing include the rate to transmit electricity from the supplier to the home or business and the cost of the electric supply. The default rate is the standard offer service but customers can choose their own electric supplier.

“We understand customers’ concerns about the cost of goods and services, particularly essential services like electricity, and for that very reason, we’re asking to keep prices where they are now,” Doug Herling, CMP’s president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “The PUC has established a 10-month process to review CMP’s filing and we expect a decision in August of 2019.”

Included in CMP’s filing is a proposal to enhance the resiliency of the energy grid by expanding vegetation management, and pursuing additional reliability measures such as pole replacements and adding tree wire in selected areas.

CMP said such investments aim to strengthen its power grid to better withstand severe weather.

CMP also is proposing adding customer service personnel and adding new rate designs with pricing options to help customers offset their energy costs.

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