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

The 18-month emergency moratorium that prevented utility companies from shutting off services due to the coronavirus pandemic will be lifted on Tuesday.

Utility companies will require customers to reach a payment plan agreement for outstanding balances, and those that do not pay may have services shut off until they are able to settle past-due bills, the Sun Journal reported.

Under Maine regulations, residential customers cannot have their electric and gas utilities disconnected between Nov. 15 and April 15 without approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

The moratorium was originally lifted on Nov. 1, but because of regulations, it effectively remained in place over the winter.

Central Maine Power Vice President of Customer Service Linda Ball told the Sun Journal that the company is trying to offer “pretty generous terms” to aid customers who have fallen behind in payments.

Ball noted that customers who have experienced extenuating challenges throughout the coronavirus pandemic can also apply for rental assistance through the Maine State Housing Authority. There are also a number of heating assisting programs available for CMP customers, including the Electricity Lifeline Program and a state Arrears Management Program that can provide assistance for low-income customers.

Philip Bartlett, chair of the utilities commission, said that companies are expected to work with customers and maintain flexible communications.

“If they are not, customers should contact the commission’s Consumer and Safety Assistance Division for help,” Bartlett said in a Thursday statement.

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley and staying active in the Maine outdoors.