August 14, 2018

CMP says ‘We’re sorry’ for response to billing complaints

Courtesy / CMP
Courtesy / CMP
Central Maine Power Co. President and CEO today Douglas Herling issued a public apology to the utility's customers in television ads that began airing on Monday. Herling apologized for what he said was the company's inadequate response to customer complaints about a new billing system that was introduced last winter.

Central Maine Power launched television ads on Monday featuring its President and CEO Douglas Herling apologizing for the utility's failure to adequately respond to customer complaints about a new billing system introduced last winter on the heels of massive power outages related to a powerful Oct. 30 storm.

In a one-minute video that's posted on the company's website, Herling begins by noting that CMP's relationship with nearly 600,000 customers in central and Southern Maine is "built upon reliability and trust."

Herling, formerly vice president of electric operations, became CMP's president and CEO in mid-January, well after the storm but at at time when customer complaints about alleged "overbilling" began to surface publicly. He replaced Sara Burns, who retired at the end of the year.

"This past winter we implemented a new customer care system," he said. "When you raised issues and concerns we didn't respond as well as we should have — and we're very sorry about that. You deserve better."

Herling said CMP has since expanded its customer service team, made technology upgrades and is "working hard to address each and every concern that's been raised."

"Our team is committed to serving you and we will work hard to earn your trust," Herling said.

New resiliency measures

Earlier this month CMP issued a news release reporting it had completed several steps to enhance the performance of its smart meter system during and after major storms. The company stated that it had advised the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Maine Legislature's Joint Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology of its plans to do so earlier this year. Among the measures that have been completed:

  • Key smart meter network communication devices are now wired for backup generators.
  • Increased the number of mobile generators available for use during extended outage situations.
  • Enhanced its ability to perform minor repairs to smart meter equipment during a storm.
  • Completed feasibility study of an alternate communications solution for use during extended telecommunications outages.

CMP also stated it plans to launch a pilot program using solar generation and extended battery backup as an alternative to traditional back-up generators by the end of 2018.

PUC investigation continues

On Monday, the Maine Public Utilities Commission posted a status report of the forensic audit it's conducting of CMP's metering, billing and customer communications practices.

"Interviews will be conducted to explore topics relating to CMP's customer service function, CIS and billing systems," the report stated. "We will complete our work to design a statistical sample of meters to test for functionality and accurate data transmittal. Meter testing will then commence. We will also proceed with testing all links of data flow through CMP's systems through bill production, upon completion of the data extraction refinement process."

CMP also faces a class action lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court filed by customers alleging they've been overcharged in their monthly bills from the utility over the past winter.


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