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HALLOWELL, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Public Utility Commission held its first of two public hearings about proposed CMP rate increases at its Hallowell office Wednesday night, and commissioners heard from everyone from Bowdoin College students to senior citizens opposed to the rates.

CMP has proposed an overall distribution rate increase over the next five years. The company says for the average ratepayer, it will mean one dollar per month more in the first year. Five years from now, the bill would be 6 to 7 dollars more per month.

The plan also implements a "stand by charge" for ratepayers who producer their own power.

For larger customers with solar power, such as Thomas College, it would mean an estimated $38,000 more over five years.

It's a rate increase smaller customers would feel as well, argued solar power advocates like Read Brugger. He spent $15,000 to outfit his Freedom home with solar technology.

"This would bust our budget," he said.

Environmentalists argue the additional CMP fees would take away incentives for Mainers to invest in renewable energy.

The PUC also heard from the President of AARP Maine Rich Livingston, who said senior citizens cannot stretch their budgets any further.

"A commission decision to enlarge CMP's profits at this time verges on immoral," said Livingston.

But according to a CMP spokesperson, the rate increases are modest, and manageable.

The PUC will hold another public hearing Thursday night at the Abromson Center at USM Portland.

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