Amber Cox shovels snow from the porch roof at her home in Auburn, Maine, on March 8, 2018. With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the U.S. government said Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 it expects households to see jumps of up to 54 percent for their heating bills compared to last winter. Credit: Daryn Slover / Sun Journal via AP

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Just in time for the holidays, the people of Maine are being reminded that they are basically held hostage by the power companies, and their friends at the Public Utilities Commission. Happy New Year, happy rate increase, just when you need it the least.

Like others, I’ve heard all the “reasons” to justify the increases, and I’m not in a practical or knowledgeable position to refute them. However, what I do know is that many people will suffer, and some greatly, because of this. Among the middle class, poor, and elderly, many will have to make the monthly choices between paying for food, medicines, rent/mortgage and electric bills.

A big part of the problem, it seems to me, is that the power companies are no longer local companies. This is not a xenophobic statement. It just means that local companies have to be more invested in their local citizens’ welfare than companies owned “from away,” that really don’t have to care. This is typified in the arrogance of Central Maine Power (owners and management, not the local workers) and their pursuit of the corridor in spite of rejection by the people of Maine. And all the companies and PUC can say is effectively to tighten your belt. Unfortunately, many of us have no more notches in the belt to tighten.

David Mahoney