Kudos to Maine’s Public Advocate for making sure that Central Maine Power is not overspending on storm responses. While we all applaud the workers in the storm, our rates can also go up fast as we pay for double overtime, meals and lodging, pre-staging, and so on.

One way to cut storm costs is to let the Federal Emergency Management Agency help. For nonprofit utilities, FEMA pays at least 75% of all costs after a declared disaster.

It’s why, after the Christmas storm last winter, Vermont’s nonprofit utilities were compensated millions. Some of this came from taxes you and I paid to the IRS. But we don’t get the same kind of benefit yet, because so far we’ve stuck with CMP.

During that same storm, CMP racked up $58 million in costs, expecting to add it to our future rates. But if we vote yes on Question 3 this fall and create the Pine Tree Power Co., future storms like this will cost us a quarter of that amount.

Oddly, these savings are not included in the 2020 study done by the consultant for the Public Utilities Commission, LEI.

The much greater savings of Pine Tree Power is its lower cost of capital as we invest in the grid over the coming years. Over 30 years, we can expect to save $9 billion, with no tax funding, and lower rates starting from day one, even as we gradually pay off the acquisition. FEMA’s help will be the icing on the cake.


Seth Berry


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