Central Maine Power customers are receiving a notice this spring that outlines the payment policy ordered by the Public Utilities Commission for disputed charges. The bottom-line message: Even if you take issue with your total electric bill, you must pay a portion of it or risk being disconnected.

Twenty months after CMP switched over to a new billing system, problems persist. CMP says the situation has stabilized, although consumer advocates don’t agree and the PUC is in the midst of an investigation. While the probe is underway, here’s what you need to know.

Q: I’ve been trying to straighten out my bill for months and don’t feel I’m making progress. What now?

A: Customers are encouraged to first work with CMP to review their bills in detail. If you’re still not satisfied, contact the PUC’s Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-452-4699.

Q: My CMP bill seems too high. Do I have to pay it?

A: Yes, but only a portion of it if you meet a standard called Qualifying Customer.  To determine if you qualify, look at the delivery charge portion of your bill (not the electricity supply charges). If the delivery charges are at least 25 percent higher than they were in any month between November 2016 and October 2017 you qualify.

If you think you’re eligible, you must call CMP at 1-800-750-4000 to register as a Qualifying Customer.

Q: How much will I have to pay in the interim?

A: That varies. The amount is connected to a formula involving your delivery charges from November 2016 to October 2017, and what you pay for your electricity supply. Remember, although the bill arrives from CMP, it is made up of two charges: CMP’s charge to deliver electricity and another company’s charge to generate, or supply, electricity.

Q: I didn’t get any bill for months. Then I got bills totaling $1,000. Do I need to pay that all now?

A: No. Customers have the right to negotiate a payment plan with CMP and shouldn’t be charged any late-payment fee.

Q: Can CMP disconnect my service, even if I dispute the charges?

A: Yes. At this time of the year, if you decline to become a Qualifying Customer and pay an interim amount, you could lose service. From Nov. 15 to April 15, however, no electric utility can stop service without permission from the PUC.

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