PUC Staff Report: CMP Isn’t Responsible for Abnormally High Bills
While this is not the final decision by the PUC commissioners themselves, the staff report is intended to advise the Maine PUC as it determines what degree of responsibility CMP has when it comes to the loads of customer complaints regarding high usage and high bills that many claim are erroneous.
According to the KJ the report finds that CMP's metering and billing system has been, in fact, reporting electricity usage and bill rates accurately. The evidence which included a detailed forensic audit done by an independent third-party auditor found that CMP customers who experienced higher than normal bills in late 2017 early 2018 was due to, what they say, a bitter cold snap coupled with a double digit increase in the standard-offer electricity-supply price in January 2018.
However, the report does go on to say the CMP's new SmartCare billing system did have some defects and did, in some cases, lead to incorrect billed amounts and incorrect displayed usage- though they say that was not a root cause of the large bill increases lots of customers experienced through the winter of 2017– 2018.
The PUC also discovered that some parts of CMP's management of the installation of its billing software referred to as SmartCare, were ill-considered. Because of the flaws in the application, after CMP started using SmartCare, defects affected tens of thousands of ratepayers who experienced delayed bills or billing errors
The report suggested corrective action to be paid for by CMP not ratepayers.
PUC commissioners don't necessarily have to go along with staff report recommendations, but because they represent the findings of agency attorneys who are, and have been involved for a year in processing the information, the recommendations will be seriously considered.
Responses will now be written and filed by the parties involved in the case. After that the three commissioners with have public deliberation and make their final decisions.