The Maine Public Utilities Commission will hold three additional hearings later this week to hear comments about Central Maine Power’s request for a rate hike. Credit: Lori Valigra

The Maine Public Utilities Commission will hold three days of formal hearings later this week to discuss Central Maine Power’s request to raise its distribution rate as much as 10.65 percent, or $5 per month on average.

The hearings are scheduled for Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the commission’s headquarters in Hallowell.

The public may attend but not comment, according to commission administrative director Harry Lanphear. The hearings are scheduled to be live-streamed via the commission’s website.

Lanphear said the meetings will include CMP, the Office of the Public Advocate and Liberty Consulting, an independent auditor that studied both CMP’s metering and billing issues and its problems with customer service.

Meanwhile, a CMP spokeswoman said the utility would work with the commission to minimize the requested distribution rate increase to about $3 per month by applying savings from the federal 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

The three new hearings will come a couple days after the commission wraps up its third public hearing on two cases, the rate hike request and Central Maine Power’s high bills.

A public hearing Monday evening in Hallowell follows two last week, one in Portland on July 16 and one in Farmington on July 18. Ratepayers attending the meetings spoke out against CMP’s poor performance in remedying high bills, and poor customer service following the October 2017 wind storm and its installation of a new billing system. Most who spoke also said the commission should not reward CMP with a higher rate.

Lanphear said yet another meeting is scheduled to be held July 23 by phone among the three commissioners, the public advocate and CMP to get a status report on where the public advocate’s office stands in its efforts to study complaints by CMP ratepayers after Liberty Consulting concluded its examination.

Briefs for the rate case are due in mid-August. The commission staff is due to issue its Examiner’s Report detailing the facts of the case Sept. 12. The commission is due to deliberate on that case Oct. 1.

Lanphear said the separate case on billing and metering issues is awaiting the report by the office of the public advocate. The commission hopes to make a decision on that case by the end of the year.