CMP has admitted to violating the commission's rules. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine’s utilities regulator agreed to fine Central Maine Power Co. $500,000, the top amount allowable, for issuing winter disconnection notices to customers without its prior approval.

The two commissioners present at Thursday’s Maine Public Utilities Commission deliberation agreed on the fine, which was recommended by its staff in July.

Commissioner R. Bruce Williamson and Chairman Phil Bartlett also agreed that the money would be distributed to customers of CMP’s electricity lifeline program in 2019-2020 as a bill credit. They said the program serves a vulnerable population that may be at risk of disconnection.

CMP has admitted to violating the commission’s rules.

“We have since reviewed and rewritten all disconnection notices to be transparent to customers and compliant with the [commission] rules,” said CMP spokesperson Catharine Hartnett. “We will … continue to work diligently so that all customers are treated properly and with respect.”

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.

“I do want to emphasize that CMP may not issue notices with such problematic language in the future,” Bartlett said. “Any such conduct would be viewed as a new series of violations.”