Landlord Maureen Verreault is suing Central Maine Power because she alleges the utility has been overbilling her and several of her tenants at two Biddeford properties since 2005. CMP says the company reached an agreement with Verreault last year and is “surprised” by the suit. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

A Biddeford landlord has filed a lawsuit against Central Maine Power Co., claiming that the utility illegally charged her and several of her tenants the same electricity delivery fees for nearly 20 years.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Cumberland County Superior Court, states that CMP only offered to pay back the landlord, Maureen Verreault, for six years of overcharging at one property, “claiming it could keep the windfall for all these other years” because the statute of limitations had passed.

“They’re acknowledging what they did was wrong, that they didn’t have a right to the money – and yet saying we can get away with it because all of these years have gone by,” said Sumner Lipman, Verreault’s attorney.

CMP spokesperson Jonathan Breed said the utility “amicably reached an agreement” with Verreault last year.

“We are surprised to learn about this development,” Breed said in a written statement. “After working in good faith, the customer professed to be satisfied with the outcome.”

The six years of repayment, he said, are “in line with the Maine Public Utilities Commission rules regarding statute of limitations, which we are bound by as a regulated company.”


Verreault alleges CMP began overcharging her in February 2005. The alleged overbilling affected two properties, on Main and Foss streets in Biddeford, that Verreault owns through her company, KMMS LLC.

At the Main Street building, eight tenants pay for their own electricity, while Verreault covers five common-area light bulbs and the boiler.

Verreault said that when her bill for that building, which was usually about $100, went up to $225 in September, it prompted her to examine her bills more closely. That’s when she realized she was being charged delivery fees for each unit in that building, not just the common area and boiler.

A delivery fee is what a customer pays for CMP to deliver electricity and is separate from the supplier fee paid to the generator of the electricity.

“I was shocked,” Verreault said. “I wouldn’t have caught this until the big bill came in. I didn’t have any reason to question it.”

At the Foss Street building, which has six units, Verreault claims CMP charged her the delivery fees for six electric meters, even though the building has just one.


In working with CMP to recover the money, Verreault said she was told that CMP couldn’t verify how far back the overbilling went because the utility switched to a new system in 2017.

Based on some old bills, including one with extra delivery fees in 2009, Verreault said she thinks she has been overcharged since she first purchased the buildings in 2005.

She said she does not have access to bills from 2005 and could not verify the exact time period of alleged overbilling.

Lipman estimates Verreault was overbilled anywhere from $50,000 to $125,000 in total, but he said he would not know until CMP produces documents during the discovery part of the case.

Verreault received $7,000 for six years of overbilling at the Main Street property, Lipman said, but CMP has not yet paid Verreault back for the overbilling the one on Foss Street.

“I said to (the CMP representative), ‘You essentially get to steal from me for 18 years, and you only have to pay back six?’ ” Verreault said. “And I was told, ‘Take it or leave it.’ ”


Alleging violations of Maine’s public utility laws and refusal to repay all 18 years, Verreault is seeking $100,000 with interest, and an additional 10% of CMP’s charges since 2005.

The six years CMP has repaid for the Main Street property are “in line with the Maine Public Utilities Commission rules regarding statute of limitations, which we are bound by as a regulated company,” said Breed, the company’s spokesman.

According to the Maine PUC’s Consumer Protection Standards, “A utility shall refund any amount billed in excess of correct rates, including standard offer service, within the previous six years from the date of the utility’s discovery or its notification of the error.”


Lipman called the limited repayment “outrageous.”

“(Verreault) is frustrated, and she feels as though she’s been violated because she pays her bills and didn’t think that a utility would intentionally charge her money she didn’t owe and then only give her back six years, telling her, ‘Too bad, too late,’ ” Lipman said.


Lipman said he believes that CMP’s overbilling was an intentional business tactic – and is likely happening to other multiunit building owners in Maine.

“If there’s one out there, there’s got to be more,” he said.

As for now, Lipman is focused on Verreault’s case. But a class-action suit is not off the table, he said.

CMP did not have a chance to review the lawsuit until Monday, when the Press Herald provided the utility with a copy. Breed said the complaint “was not filed properly.”

“They didn’t serve it to the right law firm,” he said. “They did this improperly.”

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