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Business and Economy

CMP Proposes $6 Million Compensation Fund As Alternative To Fine

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

Central Maine Power spokeswoman Catherine Hartnett says the company's proposed $6 million consumer compensation fund is meant to be an alternative to a fine the Public Utilities Commission staff proposed for customer service issues.Hartnett says a fine that would be divided among all CMP customers would provide individuals with little benefit. Instead, she says, the company is proposing "that we target and benefit those customers who've truly had issues with the company, and that this money could be applied toward that specific group of people."

The compensation fund wouldn't be created until the Public Utilities Commission completes work on CMP's recent rate hike request.

But Hartnett says two other CMP proposals will begin right away. One will have the utility pay for energy audits for some residential customers with high bills that defy explanation. The other will be a re-organization to dedicate more staff to working on the billing system.

But Maine Public Advocate Barry Hobbins, who represents consumers interests in utility matters, isn't happy with CMP's response to the billing complaints. 

"Central Maine Power Company still hasn't acknowledged any negligence," Hobbins says. "They haven't acknowledged the root of the problem. They never have looked at the root of the problems."

But CMP spokeswoman Catherine Hartnett continues to say there are few problems with that billing system.

"The Liberty audit that was released last December confirmed that our meters are working properly and billing usage is accurate," Hartnett says. "That doesn't mean that people don't have a lot of detailed questions and that people aren't frustrated and that we haven't made mistakes."

Hobbins office continues to investigate claims of unjustified high bills customers have made since June of 2018.  He says those results should be done by the end of the month.