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I-Team: 97,000 CMP customer accounts impacted by unusually high bills

The CBS 13 I-Team continues to investigate record-high CMP bills. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) – The CBS 13 I-Team discovers tens of thousands of Central Maine Power customers saw a significant increase in their bills between December and February.

A new document filed by CMP on Tuesday morning revealed 97,000 customer accounts saw a 50% increase, or more, in either their usage or total charges compared to the same time last year.

The information was submitted to the Maine Public Utilities Commission as part of its investigation into metering, billing and customer communications at CMP.

That investigation was launched in February after the I-Team analyzed hundreds of customer bills and shared them with state regulators.

Last week, CMP President and CEO Doug Herling said an internal audit found no link between increased usage on customers' bills and the new billing system.

"In most cases, we've found there's some type of usage that is driving the usage up," said Herling on Friday.

A 31-page document filed this week says the company has identified dozens of errors with the new system since it was installed in October. It said one customer was overbilled by more than $9,000, while others were underbilled. The I-Team counted 18 references to coding "defects" or "errors."

"As someone in my office said, 'This is the smoking gun,'" said Public Advocate Barry Hobbins. "It just seems so contrary to the availability call they had with the press on Friday. I'm puzzled when all of this was submitted today."

A spokesperson for CMP said, "The PUC will analyze a wide range of information in conjunction with the upcoming technical forensic audit. CMP submitted the initial data, including energy usage, to assist with that effort. We have corrected some coding errors that affected a very small percentage of customers, but those should not be construed in any way as an indicator of the new billing system's performance. CMP has not found any link between increased usage on customers' bills and the new billing system."

A technical, forensic audit is still to come as part of the PUC's investigation. That will be performed by an independent entity.

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