5 things to know about your record-high CMP bill

1. If you’re baffled by your bill, you’re not alone. Hundreds of Central Maine Power customers are speaking out and saying their bills have doubled (or tripled) for no reason. They’ve even formed a Facebook group—CMP Ratepayers Unite.

The CBS 13 I-Team analyzed hundreds of bills but focused on customers who had been in the same home for at least a year in order to compare January 2017 usage to January 2018. The analysis found that on average, daily usage went up by 111% as depicted in the monthly usage summary section of the bill. CBS 13 did the same thing for more than 200 February bills and found an average increase of 85% in usage.

There must be something wrong. Everyone can’t be wrong. There can’t just be an excuse because someone has a heat pump or someone has a sauna or whirlpool or new hot tub. It has to be more than that.
-Barry Hobbins, Public Advocate

2. State regulators are investigating. Last Tuesday, after CBS 13 shared the analysis with state regulators, commissioners at the Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to begin an investigation into “metering, billing and customer communications pertaining to Central Maine Power Company.” MPUC is now gathering data and evidence.

We will do our job as far as holding the utility accountable in providing customers the service they deserve.
-Mark Vannoy, Chairman, MPUC

3. CMP wants answers, too. For weeks CMP said the spike in usage was likely because of January’s cold weather, a broken appliance or a new appliance. Late last month, a spokesperson for CMP said the company’s statement evolved to more clearly acknowledge the possibility that there could be a problem on their end.

We’re trying to get to the bottom of this, too. While we have not found any systemic problems with our new customer care system, we continue to look for any faults that could affect bill accuracy.
-Gail Rice, Central Maine Power

4. Check to see if your bill says “standard offer.” It’s important to understand that your bill has 2 parts—supply and delivery. Your electricity is delivered by Central Maine Power but you have a choice when it comes to what company supplies the energy. If you do nothing, you’ll get the standard offer rate.

Effective January 1, 2018, the standard offer rate is up 18% compared to the supply price in 2017. Still—a new report from state regulators found that overall the standard offer is still the best deal.

“Customers that received electricity supply service from a CEP (competitive electricity supplier) over the three-year period 2014 through 2016 paid approximately $77.7 million more than what they would have paid for standard offer service.”

In 2016, for example, a customer who got supply from a CEP paid an average of $245 more than he/she would have paid for standard offer service.

I want to strongly encourage everyone to consider “standard offer” electricity supply if you are with another company.
-Rep. Seth Berry, House Chair, Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology

5. Report your billing concerns. MPUC says to first try to resolve issues with CMP. If that doesn’t work, call the PUC’s Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-452-4699.

We strongly urge people to talk to your utility first and see if they can help you resolve the issue. If they can’t, we absolutely want to hear from consumers.
-Harry Lanphear, MPUC

Jon Chrisos

About Jon Chrisos

Award-winning journalist Jon Chrisos is the investigative and consumer reporter at CBS 13 in Portland. He also anchors weeknights at 5:30. Chrisos is “On Your Side” investigating the stories that make a difference in your life. He’s passionate about helping those who’ve been wronged, exposing government waste, asking tough questions, and uncovering the truth.