Maine's electric utilities do not generate electricity, they focus instead on delivery. Electric power suppy is priced under the forces of competition. There is a wholesale market in New England and throughout the Northeast, and many suppliers who operate in that market obtained licenses from the Maine PUC in order to sell power at retail in the state. Many of Maine's large industrial and commercial providers buy their own power. For the most part, however, Maine's residential customers' supply comes through the standard offer.
Residential and small commercial customers are now seeing competitive retail supply offers from a variety of companies. We offer the following information to help customers understand this market and decide how to proceed.
Remember, customers who make no choice will continue to receive standard offer service. For those customers who choose to go with a competitive option, they need only make arrangements with their new supplier who will then work with the utility to make the switch, and the new service be put in place around the time of the utility's next monthly billing cycle.
Competitive Electricity Providers (CEPs)
There are now a number of CEPs signing up residential and small business customers in CMP and BHE territories. Below is a table showing some important information.
|CEP||Rate (CMP territory)||Rate (BHE territory)||Terms|
|$0.06829||$0.06695||Fixed until March 2014. The Standard Offer is the product of a competitive auction conducted yearly by the Maine PUC.|
|4 Choice Energy||$0.0675||$0.0665||Variable - We have been unable to find Terms and Conditions associated with 4 Choice's offerings in Maine.|
|Dead River Company||$0.0676||$0.0662||Fixed - contract for one year - $50 termination fee for early termination.|
12 month fixed
6 month fixed
12 month fixed
6 month fixed
|Fixed - contract for stated term - $100 "cost recovery fee" for early termination may be assessed.|
|FairPoint Energy||$0.0615||$0.0600||Variable - 10% annual savings (over standard offer) guaranteed. Contract, with no termination penalty. Guarantee voided if contract terminated.|
|Gulf Electricity||$0.064||$0.064||Variable and for fixed (until December meter read).|
|People's Power and Gas||$0.0899||$0.0899||Variable-Term for one year, with $100 early termination fee if less than 12 months left on contract, or $200 if greater than 12 months left. Customer can cancel contract without termination fee within first three months of contract.|
|C.N. Brown Electricity||$0.0681||$0.0668||Fixed one year contract. $100 termination fee. Offering bundling savings with heating fuels through C.N. Brown Company.|
All of these entities have applied for and received a license from the MPUC to sell electricity. This means, among other things, that they have demonstrated that they have the technical and financial ability to sell electricity. The PUC does monitor CEPs for adherence to license conditions and to other applicable state laws, but CEPs are not regulated the way CMP and BHE and other utilities are. We do not have access to the CEP's business plan or profit numbers, for example. However, the price you get is shaped by competition so regulation is not necessary.
This table contains a summary of terms; we strongly recommend that you read all terms and conditions prior to signing up for any service. For example, some may require that you allow them to perform a credit check, or to report you to credit reporting agencies in the event that you fail to make payments. Keep in mind that the Terms and Conditions are sometimes not readily found on the website; sometimes you only see it as you get closer to actually signing up.
There are a variety of consumer protection provisions in state law (Title 35-A MRSA § 3203) and in Commission rules (Ch. 305). These include the following:
- A CEP may not terminate service without providing a minimum of 30 days' notice.
- A CEP must offer a minimum of 30 days service.
- A CEP must have a customer's authorization for service (no "slamming").
- A customer has five days to rescind his or her initial selection of CEP service.
- A CEP may not use unfair or deceptive business practices.
- A CEP may not release private customer information to anyone, unless allowed by law, or by the customer's consent.
- A customer may file a complaint with the Commission if a CEP has used "slamming" practices to obtain customers.
- If a CEP drops a customer, or if the customer seeks to be dropped and makes no other choice, the customer will automatically go back on standard offer service.
Commission Enforcement Authority
Although the Maine PUC cannot regulate the price of the electricity offered by competitive suppliers, it has the authority to investigate matters relating to service offered by CEPs. Depending on the offending actions of a CEP, the Commission may revoke a CEP's license, issue cease and desist orders, order restitution and levy administrative fines.