Senate enacts Lawrence bill to protect utility customers and improve transparency around rate hikes

Posted: June 06, 2023 | Senator Lawrence

AUGUSTA – On Tuesday, the Maine Senate voted unanimously to enact 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,” previously received unanimous approval in the House, as well as from the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

Sen. Mark Lawrence

“It’s fair to say that every Legislator in this state has heard from constituents about how rising energy prices are impacting them. These folks are angry, upset, worried and even scared. They deserve better. This bill, which will improve transparency around energy bills, is just part of the Legislature’s efforts to address this crisis,” said Sen. Lawrence. “I thank my colleagues in the Senate and House for their strong, united support of this bill.”

As amended by committee, LD 414 would require a public utility seeking to increase 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 desk of Gov. Janet Mill, who has 10 days to either sign the bill into law, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature.