Winter power disconnection threats banned in Maine

July 5, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine has banned winter electricity disconnection threats that mislead consumers.

Lawmakers in the state, including Democratic Rep. Seth Berry, proposed a bill to prevent electric utilities from sending out misleading disconnection notices during the winter as part of debt collection efforts. Berry and others said the practice has affected thousands of people in the state.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission already doesn’t allow residential winter disconnections. However, utility companies were allowed to send false collection notices that give customers specific dates on which power would be shut off, supporters of the new law said.

More than 100,000 such notices were sent out during the winter of 2019-20, supporters of the new law said. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed the proposal into law in late June.

Utilities that send such false notices will now be fined up to $2,500.