The Maine Public Utilities Commission concluded deliberations Tuesday on Emera Maine’s request to increase the distribution component of its rates starting July 1, 2018.

The increase was requested to support improvements in reliability and service, and would have meant an additional $3.60 per month for a residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. The request would have represented an increase of about 4.5% in the total power bill, which also includes supply, transmission, stranded cost and energy efficiency rate components.

Based on today’s deliberations, Emera Maine expects to increase distribution rates by about 5.3%, or approximately $1.60 per month based on 500 kilowatt-hours of typical residential use, instead of the $3.60 requested. The reduction from the original request reflects in large part savings related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was passed subsequent to Emera Maine’s initial rate filings.

For more than 10 years, Emera Maine has been able to find ways to control its distribution costs to keep increases below inflation. With today’s decision, real (inflation-adjusted) distribution prices for Emera’s customers will remain below 2005 levels.

Emera Maine plans continued prudent investment in the electricity delivery system, including:

• More frequent tree-trimming, moving from a six-year cycle to a five-year cycle.

• Removal of more “danger trees” in declining health located outside right-of-ways.

• Service improvements, including new tools for customers to track and manage energy use.

Emera Maine thanks commissioners for careful consideration of the request, and all who contributed to the process, including MPUC staff, the Office of the Public Advocate, AARP Maine and customers who participated in public hearings and submitted comments as part of the case.

In separate rate-setting processes, Emera Maine also will be updating transmission, conservation and stranded cost rate components on July 1. The company will continue to review the commission’s decision and will provide a media release within the next week detailing the complete bill impact for residential customers of all rate changes going into effect by July 1, 2018.