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I-Team: CMP customers still on the hook for state investigation after lawmakers adjourn

Central Maine Power customers are on the hook for the state's investigation into record-high bills, after lawmakers adjourned without taking up legislation that could shift some of the cost to the company.

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Central Maine Power customers are on the hook for the state's investigation into record-high bills, after lawmakers adjourned without taking up legislation that could shift some of the cost to the company.

Richard Buxton is among the thousands of customers who have watched their bills get bigger, with no explanation.

"When they double and triple your bill, the budget goes out the window," said Buxton . "Where you gonna cut back? Food?"

His bills show an increase in usage. This March was more than double compared to the same month last year.

"From what?" asked Buxton. "You know, we don't have a huge house here."

The Public Utilities Commission launched an investigation in February, but answers come at a cost to ratepayers like Buxton.

"That is a flaw," he said.

Under Maine law, customers have to pay for a forensic audit that's part of the state's investigation.

Some legislators, like Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, have been working to pass LD 1729, which would allow some of the cost to be assigned to the company if it's found to be at fault.

"I think it's really unfortunate that this simple bill that CMP customers really want to see passed is being held hostage and may die because of the adjournment last night," Berry said.

On Wednesday, lawmakers failed to get a two-thirds majority vote needed to extend the legislative session, but did vote to keep bills alive that hadn't been dealt with. Finger pointing and blame followed on Thursday.

Democrats said the bills can be considered on veto day, but Republicans argue that can only happen if a special session is called, leaving this legislation in limbo.

"We may have received our last paycheck, but that doesn't mean that the job is done," said Berry.

"I'd say, 'Please please please,'" said Buxton.

Buxton said lawmakers need to put politics aside and think of their constituents, people like him and his wife who can do nothing but worry about their next bill.

"I don't even know what it's gonna be," said Buxton. "It's scary."

A spokesperson for CMP said the company supports the bill.

Berry said if the bill does pass when lawmakers return, it will take effect immediately and apply to the state's ongoing investigation.

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