I-Team: New CMP bills raise new questions as usage continues to spike

We looked at more than 200 February bills and found an average increase of 85% in usage as depicted in the monthly usage summary section of the bill

STATEWIDE (WGME) -- The CBS 13 I-Team is learning more about the state's investigation into record-high bills for customers of Central Maine Power.

The Public Utilities Commission filed new documents on Thursday, listing 11 questions related to metering, billing, and customer communication.

As the state investigation ramps up, we're analyzing another batch of bills sent to the I-Team.

We found a large spike in usage for February bills, just like we saw with January bills, leaving customers with sticker shock and lots of questions.

When we analyzed bills from the January cycle we found on average, daily usage had increased 111% compared to January of 2017.

This week, we looked at more than 200 February bills and found an average increase of 85% in usage as depicted in the monthly usage summary section of the bill.

"It upsets me," said Joe Colello from Westbrook.

Colello said he's owned a multi-family home for 30 years and has never seen a CMP bill like the ones he's received recently.

His January bill quadrupled compared to the year before and more than doubled in February.

"After I seen the I-Team investigation, then I got all my bills together," he said.

Colello is one of hundreds of customers who sent their bills to the I-Team.

In an interview last week, CMP spokesperson Gail Rice told us the company is looking for faults on its end that could be causing the record-high bills, but hasn't found any systemic issues.

"We are looking at this thing very, very closely, and we just want customers to know that we're not ruling anything out," Rice said.

The newest bills are raising new questions for some customers.

Patti Clark's January bill showed an average daily usage of 89 kilowatt hours.

On her next bill, that January usage was changed to 81 kilowatt hours.

"I just don't know what I'm paying at this point, and I don't want to be shut off. And I've been trying to keep up with the bill but its hard," Clark said.

The I-Team discovered the same discrepancy on dozens of other bills.

One shows an average daily usage of 70 kilowatt hours in December. A month later, that number was changed to 37.

When we asked CMP for an explanation, Rice told us they can't comment now that there's a state investigation.

She previously told us the bills reflect actual usage and is not an estimate.

The Office of the Public Advocate says some of the numbers on the graph don't appear to make sense and should be looked at further.

"The bills have spiked you know. It's nothing we've done. There's something wrong here and CMP has gotta get the ball moving," Colello said.

CMP said the company looks forward to answering any questions the Commission might have and will work toward a speedy resolution.

Commissioners say they'll conduct this investigation as quickly as possible but there's no timeline for long it will take.

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