Lawmakers press PUC chairman on CMP billing problems

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Lawmakers questioned the head of the Public Utilities Commission Thursday on the recent decisions about Central Maine Power.

PUC Chairman Phil Bartlett appeared before the Energy, Utilities, and Technology committee.

Bartlett said that the Commission is working to hold CMP accountable for management and customer service failures.

The Commission also wants to make sure every customer is refunded or credited for past billing errors.

Because of CMP's failures, the PUC has ordered the company to pay more than $10 million in the next 18 months.

Lawmakers expressed concerns and frustration about CMP's continued let down of Maine consumers and their approved 6.9% distribution rate increase.

"If this were a free market business, CMP would not be in business at this time," said Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, House Chair of the EUT committee. "It would be bankrupt, because people would be able to vote with their feet. But we are captive customers of our utility. It's a monopoly and there is no other choice for people in the CMP territory."

The PUC says that if CMP's service and reliability don't improve, they'll take further action on the company.