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(NEWS CENTER) -- For the first time in years Central Maine Power is requesting a rate increase.

It's current rate plan has expired and company officials say they need the extra revenue to fund its operation over the next five years. Company officials say they need to upgrade their electricity delivery system. That work, along with rising personnel and fuel costs, require them to pass the costs onto customers.

"If this is the business plan for the next five years, if this is what it's going to cost the company to operate for the next five years, how do we put that into the rates so consumers can support that service", said John Carroll of CMP.

In exchange for that increase Carroll says consumers will get better service through an updated and more reliable system. For an average ratepayer, he says the bill will an increase a little more than a dollar per month, for each year of the five year plan. So five years from now that bill will be about 6 to 7 dollars more than it is now.

But groups opposing CMP's plan say its not that simple. Lori Parham of AARP says other portions of the request could make the bills go up a lot more. Her group represents senior citizens. She says a third of them are on a fixed income and can't afford any increase.

"We understand the need for infrastructure and we understand our members want electricity flowing into their homes but it's not fair for consumers to bear the entire cost of these increases", she said.

The first of two public hearings was set for Wednesday night at the Public Utilities Commission headquarters in Hallowell. The second one is in Portland at the Abromson Center on the campus of USM.

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