CMP customer group plans to file class-action lawsuit against utility

CMP location on Canco Rd., Portland (WGME)

STATEWIDE (WGME) - Customers of Central Maine Power say they've had enough and are tired of waiting for answers.

While state regulators investigate record-high bills, the I-Team discovers some customers are moving forward with a class-action lawsuit against the power company.

More than 3,000 people are part of the group CMP Ratepayers Unite.

The group was formed after an I-Team investigation into high bills and unexplained usage after the company launched a new billing system last fall.

Those customers will now have the help of a New York-based law firm to make their case.

"I have a folder and screen shots of everything," said CMP customer Lauren Loomis.

Loomis says the high bills on her laptop tell her frustrating tale with Central Maine Power.

Loomis is an administrator of the group CMP Ratepayers Unite.

The group says attorneys representing the group have now retained Napoli Schkolnik to help prepare the suit.

The law firm confirms its involvement in the case but offered no additional details.

"They're just trying to get a good group of people to fully represent the case first and then go from there," Loomis said.

Loomis got involved after getting a bill this winter for more than $200 and finding other issues on her statements.

"I had to call in," she said.

After looking at her account and the energy manager, she says the customer service agent acknowledged something wasn't right.

"Something just didn't add up so they gave me a credit," she said.

Her account shows that credit for $25 and another credit for usage she was billed when the power was out.

The issues started after the October windstorm, followed by extremely cold winter weather, and the launch of CMP's new billing system.

CMP has said repeatedly that it hasn't found any systemic problems that would affect bill accuracy, but added, "our focus is getting to the bottom of our customers' concerns regarding their electric bills."

When errors are identified, credits will be issued, the company said.

In a filing with the public utilities commission last month, CMP revealed 97,000 customer accounts saw a 50% increase, or more, in either their usage or total charges compared to the same time last year.

A spokesperson for CMP said the company would not comment on the class-action matter at this point.

The group says it's unclear when the suit will be filed.

If you would like to be considered as a representative of the class, email Patrick Milligan or email attorney Sumner H. Lipman.

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