Two lawyers said they are filing a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of Central Maine Power customers who claim the company threatened to shut off their power during the winter.
Lead counsel Philip Coffin of Lambert Coffin and Sumner Lipman of Law Offices of Sumner Lipman are filing the complaint in the Cumberland County Superior Court.
CMP cannot disconnect power without approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission from Nov. 15 through April 15.
“The various Notices of Disconnection were not authorized by the PUC as is required and some of them further stated that CMP did not need the PUC’s permission. The only circumstance under which CMP can disconnect someone during the winter months without PUC consent is if the customer has abandoned the property. As a result of CMP’s fraudulent activities, CMP was able to get customers to pay money, in some instances for bills that they didn’t even owe,” Coffin and Lipman said in a statement.
CMP’s billing and metering system is currently being investigated by the utilities commission. That investigation is scheduled to wrap up Thursday.
“Customers were forced, during the coldest months and during snow storms, to make a choice between heat, medicine and food. CMP’s actions were reprehensible,” Coffin and Lipman said in the statement.
Coffin and Lipman said Brett Deane of Rockland, Henry Lavendar of Woolwich and Joleen Mitchell of Casco all received the disconnect notices. The lawsuit will be filed on their behalf.
The lawyers said they plan to seek class-action status to include other customers who received the disconnect notices.
“CMP has already conceded that at least 1,000 such notices went out,” Coffin and Lipman said.
CMP said it had not received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment on it. But CMP said in a statement it has commenced an internal investigation into the disconnection notices.
“We take the issues surrounding disconnections very seriously. It is very concerning that collections communications to customers may have gone out with language that was confusing and misleading. We have commenced an internal investigation into the issue and are cooperating fully with the PUC’s investigation into this matter,” CMP said in the statement.