That first winter, Lisa Curtis used space heaters to keep her small two-bedroom cottage in Strong warm. But the $250-a-month electric bills proved too much, so she traded those energy-gobbling heaters in for three wood stoves instead.

But turning to wood didn’t solve the problem. The December 2017 bill – the first one after she gave up space heaters – dipped to $130, but the bill climbed back up to $232 the next month. The bill maxed out in February at $275, exceeding even the space heater days.

She installed all-new appliances and energy-efficient LED lights after buying the modest cottage in 2015. The January bill forced her to take a closer look at her electrical usage. She unplugged almost every non-essential electronic item – lamps, a TV, a clock and a DVD player.

She even removed the nine 75-watt bulbs she used to keep her chickens warm over the winter.

“Still, our bill went up,”  Curtis said. “There is no excuse for our bill to have jumped so bad.”

When she called to complain, CMP told Curtis that the high bill likely was due to a faulty appliance. But they’re all new, she said. Perhaps it was faulty wiring in the house, which was almost 70 years old, CMP told her. But an inspector had signed off on the wiring during the 2015 home sale.

“I told them, ‘Don’t give me that crap,'” Curtis said. “(They’ve) been telling that to thousands of people, and thousands of people don’t suddenly have bad wiring or a bad appliance. There is no reason for the spike in my bills. None.”

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