A Central Maine Power meter. Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission on Thursday recommended that the regulator impose a $500,000 penalty against Central Maine Power Co. for violating its consumer-protection rule against winter disconnections.

The penalty is to be paid as a bill credit in equal amounts to the accounts of CMP customers who participated in the electric lifeline program in 2019-2020.

The commission in January started investigating the wording on CMP’s disconnection notice after several customers complained that the warnings said CMP could cut off power without first getting the necessary permission from the commission during the winter season from Nov. 15 to April 15.

Commissioners R. Bruce Williamson and Randall Davis and Chairman Phil Bartlett unanimously supported the investigation, saying the commission had warned CMP twice last winter to stop using such language in its notices. Disconnections are not allowed in occupied residences during the winter period from Nov. 15 to April 15.

The commission is scheduled to make final deliberations on the penalty on Aug. 4.

CMP spokesperson Catharine Hartnett the company does not comment on staff recommendations but it “will be prepared for the Aug. 4 deliberations decision.”