BREWER (NEWS CENTER Maine) – Reports of scammers going door-to-door trying to sell electricity at a lower cost are sweeping the state, now including both Central Maine Power and Emera Maine customers.
"They look very official. They've got the orange vest, they've got the clipboard,” Shawn Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the individuals came to his door in Brewer and said they were with Townsquare Energy “in partnership” with Emera Maine. They even asked for his last power bill.
"I realized that if he was in a partnership with my electric company they would probably already have that information,” Goodwin said.
When he questioned them, Goodwin said the pair immediately left. So he took to Facebook to warn others about it.
"The tactics are not legit, " one person commented on the post. Another wrote, "They need to be reported to the police.”
A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by residents of Bath, Norway and Paris is taking aim at scammers like this by suing supply company Electricity Maine.
The residents allege that the men claiming to work for Central Maine Power went door-to-door in their towns telling residents they were being overcharged by CMP and promising lower rates.
The lawsuit claims it’s a bait-and-switch scheme whereby the electricity rate goes up significantly after a certain amount of time.
Electricity Maine denied these the claims. The company shared this statement with NEWS CENTER Maine:
“Electricity Maine does not condone misleading sales practices under any circumstance. We deny the allegations presented in the lawsuit and we intend to defend against them vigorously. Electricity Maine is committed to providing electricity to the residents of Maine in full compliance with all laws and regulations.”
Central Maine Power told NEWS CENTER Maine it is not affiliated with the supplier. A spokesperson said customers need to understand that suppliers selling the electricity are separate from the utility companies that maintain the infrastructure.
“Chances are it's not us. We don't go door to door,” CMP spokesperson Gail Rice said. "That supply piece is completely separate from us. We don't have a stake in any of these suppliers."
In Goodwin’s case, Emera Maine said it has heard reports of these incidents and warns that the company is not “in partnership” with any supplier.
"We don't have any partnerships with any specific supplier, but customers do have a choice of which supplier they want to choose,” Emera Maine spokesperson Judy Long said.
Goodwin said he has heard of several people in his town falling for the scam, and he hopes his warning prevents others from doing the same.
"Sadly in 2018 I've stopped getting surprised by what people do,” Goodwin said. “If people will eat a Tide Pod, I'm sure people will sign up for some bad electricity supply."
Townsquare Energy, the company not included in the lawsuit, did not return NEWS CENTER Maine's request for comment.
A full list of reputable suppliers is available on the Maine Office of the Public Advocate website.
You can also call either utility company if you have questions or concerns, CMP at 1-800-750-4000 or Emera Maine at 1-855-EMERA-11.