Committee unanimously supports Lawrence bill to protect utility customers and improve transparency around rate hikes
AUGUSTA – On Thursday, the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee voted unanimously in favor of a bill from Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-Eliot, to help protect utility customers in Maine. An amended version of LD 414, “An Act to Clarify the Provision of Notice of Proposed Rate Increases to Public Utility Customers,” received unanimous, bipartisan support from committee members who were present, with two members absent.
“Our constituents have been on the receiving end of non-transparent rate increases for too long,” said Sen. Lawrence, who is Senate chair of the committee. “This legislation will hold utilities accountable, and keep the rate increase process more transparent, giving more customers appropriate notice prior to a rate increase. I’m thankful to my fellow committee members for their thoughtful discussion and support of this bill.”
The amended version of LD 414 would require a public utility seeking an increase in rates to send a notice of the increase to customers. If the utility company wants to increase the rate higher than what’s been published in the notice to customers, it needs to notify and get permission from the Public Utilities Commission to do so, demonstrating it has good cause to increase rates that much. If the PUC approves the rate increase, the company must then notify customers of the updated increased rate.
Maine’s Public Advocate William Hardwood testified in favor of the bill.
LD 414 now goes to the Senate and House for further votes.