AUGUSTA (WGME) - It's been three years since Central Maine Power launched its new billing system, but monthly reports filed with the state show problems persist, and the company is still working to fix defects with the system.
CMP is required to file monthly reports with the Public Utilities Commission.
The most recent report shows the company found dozens of customer-facing defects this year, including two new ones this month, but a CMP spokesperson said few customers are actually affected, and, in most cases, they catch the errors before bills are sent.
"It's frustrating because we did all this work, the investigation, and they found errors. It's frustrating that it's continuing," CMP customer Lauren Loomis said.
Loomis runs the Facebook group CMP Ratepayers Unite.
She started it after she had trouble with her own bill when CMP launched the new billing system in October 2017.
"We're seeing customers still facing defects from the new billing system," Loomis said.
According to a report filed with the PUC this month, CMP said it's identified 49 customer-facing defects since February and has resolved 33 of them, leaving 16 that still need to be fixed.
"I think the challenge is in the word 'defect.' These are system issues that come up in every major IT system," CMP Spokesperson Catharine Hartnett said.
CMP identified two new defects this month, including an issue for a handful of customers who have autopay.
The first new CFD impacts a small number of customers who have enrolled in AutoPay, CMP’s automatic payment program. In some cases, the amount of money scheduled to be withdrawn differs from the amount indicated on the customer’s bill. A daily report is generated identifying any discrepancies which are then corrected, and customers notified.
The second new CFD involves the final installment of a payment agreement which generates an Out of Balance invoice. Existing processes ensure than an out of balance bill is not sent to a customer and instead, is flagged for the Billing department to correct through the exception management process. Once corrections are made, the correct bill is issued to the customer so ultimately, customers are not aware of this issue.
Other defects include how some information is presented on bills.
Most of the issues we're seeing aren't impacting customers in terms of the amount of their bill, the accuracy of their bill or when their bill is received. It's basically behind the scenes systems, Hartnett said.
The system is still under scrutiny by the state after the CBS13 I-Team first reported widespread billing complaints.
In January, the Maine Public Utilities Commission found CMP mismanaged the rollout of the system, which caused thousands of billing errors.
However, commissioners found no system-wide problem that would have caused customers to receive bills for inaccurate usage.
PUC staff said while CMP managers made some imprudent decisions when rolling out the system, cold weather and a rate increase were to blame for record-high usage and bills during the winter of 2017-2018.
The PUC ordered a $10 million dollar financial penalty due to poor customer service, billing issues, and management failures.
The order also requires CMP to submit monthly status reports to the Public Utilities Commission.
"Small issues are going to come up, and the goal really is to minimize them, minimize the impact on customer, and fix them," Hartnett said.
CMP reports more than 99% of bills this year have been accurate and on time.
The company is so confident things are headed in the right direction, CMP will now provide a $25 credit if a bill is late or if the balance due is inaccurate.