Maine: Sky-high utility bills but utility company denies any Smart Meter problems

From WGME CBS 13, On Your Side

CMP customers sticker-shocked by latest bill

Jan. 25, 2018
By Marissa Bodnar

Some Central Maine Power customers are outraged over their latest bills and struggling to understand why, in some cases, they’ve doubled.

The CBS 13 I-Team has received e-mails from customers and found hundreds of comments on Facebook.

“I printed this off on the 17th and almost had a stroke,” said Patti Clark, a customer in Camden.

Clark said her CMP bill took her breath away. The cost had more than doubled, from $193 dollars to nearly $500.

“It makes zero sense,” she said.

Clark said when she got CMP on the phone, they pointed to a number of possibilities, including a rate increase by her supplier.

“I said, ‘My supplier went up three cents per kilowatt hour. I understand that,'” said Clark.

Clark was prepared for a $50 to $70 increase, but said her bill also reflects a jump in usage: an average of 89 kilowatt hours per day compared to 53 the same time last year.

We’re not doing anything differently,” she said.

Clark said her husband is on the road for work 28 out of 30 days. They use a pellet stove for heat, have no furnace, and upgraded to all new, more efficient appliances over the past year, along with a geothermal water heater.

“I’m running around shutting things off, basically sitting in the dark,” she said.

Clark said she’s tracking her usage and sees discrepencies between her mobile alerts and the meter on her home.

“Their energy alert is off 90 from what my meter says,” Clark said.

Gail Rice, a spokesperson for CMP, said the majority of customers are not complaining about their bills, and the company found no issues with meter reading or rate calculation. She said delivery prices have not changed since July of 2017.

Rice said there are a number of variables, but residential customers typically use more electricity in the winter. She said heat and hot water systems run more frequently and for longer periods, people spend more time indoors with lights and entertainment devices turned on, and the recent cold snap drove usage up for many.

She said the number of heating degree days over the period in question was 24 percent higher this year.

Clark is having her smart meter swapped out for an analog one as she anxiously awaits the next bill.

“I feel like I’m a slave going back and forth to work just to pay this bill,” she said. “I’m even thinking of having to take a second job just to pay these.”

The Maine Public Utilities Commissionisn’t getting an unusual number of complaints about CMP bills, but said the company has had some minor issues transitioning to a new billing system.

MPUC encourages customers to call their utility first to get information. They can also call the Commission’s Consumer Assistance Division for help.

CMP: No issues that would cause bills to spike

January 26, 2018

PORTLAND (WGME) – Complaints are piling up about sky-high electricity bills.

Our I-Team continues to hear from customers in Southern Maine, who say their recent bills are taking their breath away.

Since our story aired Thursday night, we’ve heard from dozens of Central Maine Power customers, emailing, calling, and posting on Facebook.

Most are saying the same thing, their bills have doubled, even tripled in some cases.

One bill a customer sent us was for more than $500.

It indicates her daily usage this January more than tripled from last January.

Thursday, Patti Clark showed us her bill, showing her usage almost doubled from the previous January.

So Fridday we again talked with CMP.

Spokesperson Gail Rice says any number of factors can drive up usage, certainly this January’s severe cold snap is one of those things.

She says it’s impossible to know what’s going on inside a customer’s home, but sudden spikes in electricity use can be a sign of problems with appliances, a malfunctioning well pump, or a leaky water heater.

She also told us CMP constantly monitors the performance of its smart meters and system, and has found no issues that would cause bills to spike.

CMP says most customers are not calling about their bill, but if you have a bill you want us to see, we want to see it so we can continue to look into it.

Email us a picture of your bill right now, at: tips (at)

There’s plenty of buzz on social media that the increase is because of the October windstorm.

While CMP says it will try to recoup some of the cost of the storm from customers, that won’t happen until this summer at the earliest.

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