I-Team: CMP cuts off power at town property despite paid bill

Public works lot in Newcastle (WGME)

NEWCASTLE (WGME) -- There are more questions for Central Maine Power as state regulators continue to investigate record-high bills.

CMP shut off power to a public works property in Newcastle even though the town paid the bill on-time, according to town administrator Jon Duke.

Duke says when a crew showed up during a storm to the town's sand pile, they discovered the property had no electricity.

"Come to find out CMP had disconnected power, and we had no disconnection notice. We had no idea power was even disconnected at that time," Duke said.

The town clerk who handles the bills says CMP got the checks for the town's multiple accounts.

She said she was told the payment was applied incorrectly.

"We had been paying bills on time, and they lost checks and combined accounts and misapplied payments. It was really a mess," Duke said.

Duke said it only took a couple hours to get the power back on, but then just two days later, the town's fire chief started getting phone calls from CMP about disconnect notices for the fire house.

"It seemed they were ready to disconnect power to fire department of all places," Duke said.

In late February, the Maine Public Utilities Commission launched an investigation into metering, billing, and customer communication at Central Maine Power after the I-Team found hundreds of customers had large, unexplained spikes in usage.

Duke said he wonders if the issue in his town is part of a larger problem.

A CMP spokesperson said she was looking into it.

"They had incorrect phone numbers, incorrect account numbers, incorrect addresses. It was error on top of error on top of error," Duke said.

According to state rules, while residential customers cannot be disconnected during the winter period, which ends April 15, non-residential can be disconnected with proper notice.

But again, the town administrator said they never got a disconnect notice for the sand lot property.

"It's outrageous. It's wrong to disconnect someone without going through the proper process," Rep. Seth Berry said.

Berry is the chair of the legislative's Energy, Utilities and Technology committee.

During a hearing last week, CMP representatives told him and the other members, the company has found no problems with its new billing system or meters.

"This runs counter to what we are hearing from thousands of Mainers both individual and business accounts who are seeing issues with bills," Berry said.

MPUC said it is actively investigating the situation in Newcastle and why the power was disconnected.

CBS 13 received no additional comment or information Monday from Central Maine Power.

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