AUGUSTA (WGME) – It’s being called a compromise between Central Maine Power and its concerned customers.
The Public Utilities Commission said people are disputing their high bills will have to pay some, but not all, to keep their lights on, during the state investigation into CMP.
CMP isn’t allowed to disconnect anyone during the winter period, which ends on April 15th. But the public advocate was concerned about what happens after that, while state regulators investigate record-high bills.
Wednesday, a decision was made that protects consumers who’ve seen the biggest increases.
“We’re too old for this,” Judy Hopkins is cracking jokes today but said the January bill she and her husband got from CMP was no laughing matter. “When we got that bill for $386 dollars.. Just about had a heart attack. What????” she quipped.
It showed their usage had more than doubled from the same month last year.
Last Friday, a disconnect notice came in the mail, telling them to pay $177 or be cut off on April 11th.
The couple says the bill wasn’t paid, because they never got one. “My blood pressure. I’m surprised I didn’t have a stroke, I was so mad,” said Hopkins.
That anger turned to some relief Wednesday, as the PUC decided to temporarily modify rules on disconnections while it investigates record high CMP bills.
Puc Chairman Mark Vannoy said this change will protect residential customers who saw a 25 percent or more increase in their delivery charges from the same time last year. He stated, “So if you had service last year, same month. That’s a reasonable generic undisputed portion of the bill, so as long as they pay that, (CMP cannot disconnect them?) That’s right.”
Central Maine Power released a statement reading in part, “The commission’s decision balances the need for our customers to pay for services they receive while protecting them from the possibility they have been improperly billed.”
Public Advocate Barry Hobbins calls it a reasonable compromise. “This, I think, gives people an assurance that going forward you’re fine, going backward, you’re fine,” he said. “It’s fairer than I thought.”
For now, ratepayers like the Hopkins’ in Pownal can only watch and wait.