A Central Maine Power smart meter. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The group of commissioners that sets rates for electricity supplied through Central Maine Power and Versant Power has approved a lower standard offer rate that is expected to save customers around $5 a month.

That comes as Versant customers anticipate a distribution rate hike, starting on July 1, which would see residential customers using 500 kilowatt hours per month paying an increased $5 per month. The average Central Maine Power customers can anticipate a $1.67 increase to their bills starting July 1 after the company agreed to stretch its next rate increase in multiple steps across the next three years.

The reduction of 1 cent per kilowatt hour approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Friday would reduce the average customer’s bill by approximately $5.50 per month, starting July 15. The rate reduction only applies to customers in Versant’s Bangor Hydro Power District and CMP customers who receive the standard offer supply.

Central Maine Power customers already saw their standard offer rate increase by 46 percent in January, with the average residential customer receiving a bill of around $154.58 each month. Versant customers saw a 40.7 percent increase in supply rates in January, bringing the average customer’s bill to approximately $138.55.

Customers have the option to choose their own electricity supplier or use the supplier chosen through the commission’s competitive bidding process for the standard offer.

CMP has been harshly criticized by ratepayers since a   major windstorm in October 2017 led to the worst outage event in Maine history and a botched cutover of a new billing system at the same time. Both CMP and Versant have   ranked at the bottom of J.D. Power customer satisfaction surveys for the past several years.

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.