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December 3, 2018

Public advocate critical of CMP's handling of latest billing problem

Maine Public Advocate Barry Hobbins said Central Maine Power should have consulted his office before making the decision to bill roughly 3,400 new accounts for only one month of service when those accounts had been drawing electricity for months without being billed by the utility.

"They are making a business decision that may affect all ratepayers in the future, in the middle of a forensic audit," Hobbins told the Portland Press Herald's Tux Turkel, who broke the story on Sunday.

The newspaper reported that CMP is charging the new customers only for the most-recent billing cycle after catching up with a backlog of new accounts that it says was partially due to retirements that left it shorthanded and unable to keep pace with the new accounts.

CMP spokeswoman Catherine Hartnett told the newspaper that the utility has filled the open positions and is making sure that the new customer accounts are now being entered in the new billing system launched a little more than a year ago. "Because the customer did not cause the delay, CMP is billing for [only] 30 days," she said.

Harry Lanphear, administrative director of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, told the newspaper that CMP's latest billing problem, including how to handle the issue covering any lost revenues, will be reviewed by the three-member commission.

In March, the commissioners decided to hire an auditor to conduct a formal forensic evaluation of the metering and billing issues that CMP customers have raised in complaints filed with the PUC.

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