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    Although electricity rates across Maine and New England have been falling since 2009, many residents are seeing a rise in bills once again as the cost of upgrading the region's power grid starts to trickle down to ratepayers.

    According to the Kennebec Journal, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) recently announced the delivery section of bills for Central Maine Power Co.'s customers will increase by 7.1 percent, beginning this month. The rate hike equates to small individual increases, with a typical $81 bill rising to about $84.

    Still, this raise is the beginning of several rate hikes in the coming five years that will be necessary to complete the grid modernization projects the MPUC has started. The projects have an estimated price tag of $4.6 billion, which will be used to improve transmission infrastructure through 2016.

    Across the country, utilities are taking part in similar grid modernization projects that although will increase electricity rates in the short term, will result in major savings in the long run. Often, these upgrades include the installation of smart meters, which will significantly increase energy efficiency.