MAINE, USA — Central Maine Power Co. (CMP) has agreed to set up a $500,000 fund, at shareholders’ expense, to help residential customers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic pay their electric bills.
According to NEWS CENTER Maine's partners at the Portland Press Herald, this proposal is part of a settlement reached between the utility and the Maine Office of the Public Advocate regarding the way CMP notified customers about winter disconnection practices since 2015.
Last winter, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) investigated CMP for using false or misleading information in its disconnection notices to customers. According to the Portland Press Herald, the proposed settlement, which CMP agreed to last week, is an outgrowth of that case and would need to be approved by the PUC.
One agreed upon stipulation is that CMP will issue apologies to customers:
Upon approval of the Stipulation, CMP will issue a letter to the Impacted Customers, as defined in the Stipulation, acknowledging, consistent with the terms of the Stipulation, that the Company’s winter disconnection related communications that stated that CMP can disconnect a customer’s electric service during the Winter Disconnection Period without approval of the Commission or the Commission’s Consumer Assistance and Safety Division (“CASD”) violated the applicable Commission rules governing winter disconnections and apologizing for any harm that these communications may have caused customers.
In the future, the Portland Press Herald said CMP would also be subject to an annual review of its practices by the state.
Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), House chair of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Central Maine Power that it has created a $500,000 fund to address disconnection which, according to the Portland Press Herald, would distribute money through the Energy Crisis Intervention Program administered by a state agency, possibly the Maine State Housing Authority.:
“When I first brought this latest pattern of egregious abuse of customers to the attention of the PUC, I expected it to be treated not as a single violation, but as a repeated series of violations. I applaud the work of our Public Advocate, but expect more from a multinational monopoly allowed to hold its Maine customers captive. CMP should make full amends for the harm they have inflicted on hundreds of customers over months and years, not walk away as if they had made only a small mistake.”
Maine PUC has already suspended all disconnection notices until further notice in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
To read the entire Portland Press Herald article, click HERE.