State regulators have ruled that Central Maine Power will be allowed to continue sending disconnection notices to households with past-due balances during the winter season.
The decision from the Maine Public Utilities Commission follows a complaint by 10 customers and State Public Advocate Barry Hobbins, who says the disconnection notices are intimidating to ratepayers who may be struggling financially because of the pandemic, and don’t make it clear that consumers have many options for paying their bills without getting disconnected.
“It’s misconstrued to say unless you pay it off in full you’ll be disconnected at some point, when in fact that really isn’t the case,” he says.
Hobbins is calling for a moratorium on disconnection notices, similar to the federal moratorium on evictions.
CMP spokesperson Catherine Hartnett says the notices do show how much a household owes but encourage consumers to reach out for help.
“The notices also strongly encourage people and advise them that if they were to call the company they could work out a payment arrangement over long periods of time, where they could begin to pay down those balances rather than continue to have them accrue and find themselves back in a similar situation in April,” she says.
CMP is not permitted to turn customers’ power off between Nov. 15 and April 15 without express permission from the Public Utilities Commission.