Power lines deliver electricity through Enfield in this September 2017 file photo. Credit: Darren Fishell | BDN

Electricity Maine, one of the state’s largest private electricity sellers, has agreed to settle a long-running potential class action lawsuit for up to $14 million in damages pending an approval hearing.

The case alleg e s that between 2011 and 2014, Auburn-based Electricity Maine enrolled nearly 200,000 Maine households and small businesses in its electricity-supply services with the promise of substantial cost savings. The case had been on hiatus since last fall for the parties to pursue settlement discussions.

The case involved the rate from the so-called “competitive electricity provider,” which was supposed to provide savings to customers over the “standard offer” rate Mainers get by default on their electricity bill.

The plaintiffs alleged that instead of decreasing consumers’ electricity bills, Electricity Maine, using fraud and deceptive practices, cost Maine ratepayers at least $35 million.

The settlement provides for payments up to $14 million to pay claims by residential and small-business customers who purchased electricity from Electricity Maine between Jan. 1, 2011 and Nov. 30, 2019. Electricity Maine has also agreed to waive certain overdue payments during that period.

To receive a payment, plaintiffs must submit a claim form by Sept. 10. They also can opt out of the settlement or file an objection to it by that date. Those who object can speak to the court at a fairness hearing for final approval of the settlement that has not yet been scheduled.

The proposed class action case was filed in U.S. District Court in November 2016. It was settled on May 13, but the settlement administrator had 30 days to launch the claims process and provide notice of the settlement to Electricity Maine customers.