Central Maine Power’s billing practices and other controversies involving the state’s largest utility are in the spotlight in Portland on Tuesday.
The state Public Utilities Commission is holding a public hearing at the USM campus, where it will take testimony in two separate cases. One asks whether the company is asking for higher profits than it deserves in its monopoly territory. The other asks whether CMP botched the rollout of a new billing system in 2017, whether customers were overcharged and, if so, whether the company should be penalized.
Phil Bartlett, the PUC’s new chairman, says CMP’s system doesn’t save original usage data for very long, and so some questions about bill accuracy may never be answered.
“We could not go back and look at an individual meter and say, ‘Here is the actual usage history that’s being recorded.’ So that’s the challenge, that is the big missing piece that we’ve all been struggling with, to see how much of this was inaccurate readings and how much of this was on the billing system end,” he says.
A CMP spokeswoman says when overcharges are uncovered, customers can expect to be compensated. And she says the number of customers with unresolved bills is now down to less than 1 percent.