PUC sees big year-over-year drop in ‘standard offer’ electricity prices

The state Public Utilities Commission has set standard offer service electricity prices for large commercial and industrial customers for the month of April – prices that reflect a 25 to 35 percent drop over the same period a year ago, and a 10 percent drop over March.

The “standard offer” is the electrical service that customers receive if they have not bought power through another retailer or aggregator. Standard offer service represents about 5 percent of the supply used by Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydroelectric’s large commercial and industrial customers.

According to a Monday release from the PUC, the April prices, which are set based on an energy market index, reflect continued low prices in wholesale power and natural gas markets.

“These price reductions provide immediate benefits to large customers taking standard offer service,” said PUC Chairman Thomas Welch. “However, because prices for these standard offer classes change monthly and are tied to a market that can be quite volatile, there is no guarantee that low prices will continue. If price certainty is important to customers, they should consider purchasing directly in the retail market, as most large C&I customers do.”

He noted that while the number of customers directly affected by the change in the standard offer price is relatively small, the new price reflects market conditions that should also be at work in pricing offered by retail suppliers.

“When coupled with the price reductions for the small and medium customer classes that we announced earlier, it is fair to conclude that electricity prices in Maine have fallen substantially over the past year for most if not all Maine customers,” Welch said.