War of words breaks out between CMP, Maine lawmaker

In a memo obtained by the I-Team Friday, CMP says the Bowdoinham Representative made inaccurate statements on social media. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) – A war of words breaks out between a state lawmaker and Central Maine Power, as the company is investigated for record-high bills.

In a memo sent to the CBS 13 I-Team today, CMP said Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, made inaccurate statements on social media.

The controversy all centers around a piece of legislation related to the cost of the state's ongoing investigation. CMP has spoken out in support from the very beginning, but Berry suggests it's only for show.

Under Maine law, ratepayers are on the hook for a forensic audit that's part of the state's investigation.

Berry, who chairs the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, has been pushing an amendment to LD 1729, which would allow the cost of part of the state's investigation to be shifted to CMP, if it's found to be at fault.

"If CMP did something wrong, if they were wasting our money as their customers, then the cost of the investigation could be assigned to them," said Berry, in an interview with CBS 13 on Thursday.

With lawmakers adjourned, the legislation is in limbo.

After the CBS 13 story ran on Thursday evening, Berry shared the link on his official Facebook page with the comment:

Check out this new WGME story! CMP **claims** to support the Riley Amendment to LD 1729 -- but they and their allies are whispering in the hallways and it has been tabled in the Senate all week. Now, the House minority just voted to block it, by adjourning to go home and campaign. This is the same group CMP has donated to the most.

On Friday, CMP fired back.

In a letter to Berry, Joel Harrington, a lobbyist for the company, called those assertions "inaccurate at best."

Harrington wrote the bill has CMP's unequivocal support, and added in part:

To assert that the bill is tabled as a result of some inappropriate and incoherent activity on the part of CMP has no basis in fact and serves to undermine the integrity of the legislative process.

CMP asked Berry to correct his statements on social media, but he told CBS 13 he stands by what he said and believes if CMP genuinely supported the bill, it would have passed into law by now. Berry also said he'd be happy to back up his comments with documentation once the legislative session officially ends.

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