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I-Team: Audit of CMP meters and billing system could take months

Customers looking for answers about their record high electric bills, could be waiting quite a while. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) – Customers looking for answers about their record high electric bills, could be waiting quite a while.

Right now, the Public Utilities Commission is going through the process of hiring an independent consultant to investigate Central Maine Power's meters and billing system.

The request for bids suggests final results of the audit might not be available until the end of the year.

During the past few months, 97,000 CMP customer accounts saw a 50 percent increase or more in either their usage or total charges compared to the same time last year.

Public advocate Barry Hobbins says for so many customers to see such dramatic increases, something doesn't seem right. He says he knows CMP customers are frustrated, and he is, too.

“The consumers of Maine who pay their electric bill every month have to have a certainty that the amount is true and accurate and representative of the use and amount they’re spending,” Hobbins said.

Talking with the I-Team on Friday, CMP President and CEO Doug Herling said the company hasn't found any issues on its end that would cause the record-high bills.

Now state regulators will see what they can find during an independent forensic audit.

The Public Utilities Commission posted a request for proposals to hire a consultant who can help analyze the company's complicated systems.

According to the job ad, the anticipated contract starts in May and ends in December.

A spokesperson for the PUC says because of state rules during the bidding process, he's not allowed to estimate how long the audit process might take, but he said the PUC wants to get it done as quickly as possible, balanced with the fact that the investigation needs to be thorough and accurate.

We'll be keeping a very close eye on it.

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