Regulators Decide To Open Formal Investigation Into CMP Billing Controversy

Jan 9, 2019

A new Central Maine Power "smart meter" displays electricity usage at a business in Freeport, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010.
Credit Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

State regulators this morning opened a formal investigation into whether Central Maine Power overcharged or otherwise inaccurately billed customers in 2017.  An independent audit released late last year found that, overall, CMP had not overcharged its customer base. But today Public Utilities Commission members concluded that substantial questions remain about thousands of bills that may have been inaccurate.

"Central Maine Power's made a dismal mess of things in its billing systems and customer care systems of late October early November  2017," said commission member Bruce Williamson.

Williamson said CMP botched the rollout of a new billing system - and should have delayed it in the aftermath of the October 2017 windstorm that left many in the  dark for days.

"Even without the storm outages that occurred concurrently, CMP was thoroughly unprepared to launch the project and possibly should not have without several months more, without additional in-depth, rigorous testing," Williamson said.

The commission agreed to split further inquiry along two paths, with one focusing purely on bill accuracy; a second inquiry into the adequacy of CMP's customer service systems will be folded into an ongoing case that's considering the company's latest rate request.

Originally published Jan. 8, 2018 at 11:15 a.m. ET.