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Business and Economy

Maine PUC Says CMP Billing And Metering Systems Operated Accurately

Joel Page
AP File

This story was originally published at 5:31 p.m. Jan. 9, 2020.

A review by staff at Maine's Public Utilities Commission has concluded that Central Maine Power's billing and metering systems have operated accurately, a counterpoint to complaints from numerous customers about botched bills, inflated bills and poor customer service.

In its recommendation to the Commission's three-person board, the staff says high electricity prices last winter, coupled with higher electricity usage during that season's cold snap, were to blame for unexpected charges. It also says that the company's "SmartCare" system performed poorly, particularly during its initial rollout, and recommends that CMP's shareholders, not customers, should pay for improvements.

CMP critics like Public Advocate Barry Hobbins say the response is disappointing. He hopes the commission will stay the utility’s concurrent request to increase rates until the public is fully satisfied with the billing issue.

“We really need not institute the rate increase of $20 million on ratepayers until we have all the answers and all the individuals who have complaints pending are satisfied and taken care of, he says. “Central Maine Power Co. still hasn’t acknowledged — still to this day, after two years, has not acknowledged — their faults, their omissions and commissions and their imprudence, and that is disappointing.”

Hobbins says he plans to file “exceptions” by Jan. 23 that will highlight certain aspects of the argument against CMP made by his team. He says this is an attempt to make sure the Commission doesn’t just rubber-stamp the report.

In a press release, CMP parent company Avangrid said it would respond to the recommendations within two weeks.