Mary Johnston called CMP about her electric bill more than two dozen times in the winter of 2017-18.

The Woolwich resident had lived in her house for eight years. Her usual winter bill was about $150. But that winter, after the October windstorm, her bill began to climb, seemingly without reason. That December her monthly bill topped $300, the highest it had ever been.

“I was told that I must have a defective appliance, electricity running to ground, a bad water pump, etc., and that I should have someone come take a look,” she recalled. “I had an electrician, appliance service and plumber look at everything. Consensus? Normal.”

If it wasn’t the dryer, hot tub or water pump, what could it be? Johnston went on the hunt for answers.

She had already spent a lot of money to make her home energy-efficient – new windows, new hot water heater, all new energy-efficient appliances. Before the windstorm, even with five air conditioners running, her highest summer bill was $175.

She tried to sign up for CMP’s energy manager program, in hopes of finding the problem herself, but it was down. When a print-out of her daily kilowatt consumption showed electrical use in the days after the storm, when they had lost power, she began to suspect that her meter was busted.

CMP agreed to conduct a meter test, but the technician failed to show up for the first scheduled appointment. On the second try, CMP showed, but the test indicated that the meter was functioning within normal limits, leaving Johnston with nowhere to turn.

“Now what? We are helpless,” Johnston said. “I’ve hired and paid for multiple people to come check my house for issues, and none of them found any. Now I wait for my bill every month and pray … As a consumer, I feel trapped and powerless.”

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