The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) impacts the lives of Mainers in many ways. It regulates electric, gas, telephone and water utilities as well as setting rates that are mandated to be just and reasonable for all ratepayers.
Earlier this fall, the Chairman of the PUC and the Manager of the MPUC Customer Assistance Division answered questions about the work the PUC does and the utilities they regulate on Maine Calling. Listen to the show here.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission also has a Consumer Assistance and Safety Division (CASD) to provide support to all Maine utility customers. The CASD is charged with ensuring that consumers, utilities, and the public receive fair and equitable treatment through education, complaint resolution, and evaluation of utility compliance with consumer protection rules. As part of its mission, the CASD is responsible for educating the public and utilities about consumer rights and responsibilities and other utility-related consumer issues, for investigating and resolving disputes between customers and utilities, and for evaluating utility compliance with State statutes, Commission rules and the utility's Terms & Conditions for service.
The majority of customer complaints and inquiries are received over the consumer hotline, which is (800) 452-4699. Customers can also file complaints or ask questions on the PUC website.
If a customer is in a crisis situation, for example, facing disconnection, the customer should call the consumer hotline. Once CASD accepts a complaint, the utility is prohibited from pursuing any further credit and collection activities (including the disconnection of service) until the CASD completes its investigation.
CASD can also help customers with questions about the Low Income Assistance Program (LIAP), or the Arrearage Management Program (AMP). The LIAP provides an annual income-based benefit to qualifying customers to help make their electric bills affordable. The AMP provides a monthly benefit of up to $300 for customers that have an electric arrearage of $500 or more that is at least 90 days old. Customer that qualify for LIAP are eligible to participate in both of these programs. The CASD staff are also familiar with other various forms of financial assistance and can provide helpful advice to customers struggling to pay their utility bills.
If you have any questions, call the hotline at (800) 452-4699.
This story is provided by AARP Maine. Visit the AARP Maine page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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