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08-02-2008, 02:05 PM
Big hike in power bills zaps business

The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved rate increases for medium and large customers of Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. and Central Maine Power Co.

Medium business customers of CMP will see an increase of 23 percent starting Sept. 1, and large customers will see an increase of 32 percent.

For Bangor Hydro, medium customers will see a 21 percent increase while large users will see an increase of just under 20 percent.

The increase applies to the cost of electricity, not its transmission.

Utilities classify Maine businesses as small, medium or large depending on the amount of electricity they demand at peak periods, according to the PUC.

"We are considered a major user of electricity and we’re also a major user of oil," said Mark Biscone, executive director of Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. "We’re dealing with increases in the cost of food as well, so it is a concern to the hospital — everyone who works here and the general public as well," he said Thursday. "We’re concerned as everyone else is, both with fuel oil and electricity."

Biscone said the hospital is studying the potential of investing in a biomass boiler that would use wood chips to provide its energy needs. He said finding a steady supply of chips could prove difficult because the demand for that product is also rising.