PORTLAND, Maine — Maine power customers disputing high winter electricity bills will have to pay at least a portion of the cost.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission made the decision on Wednesday. The commission’s action stems from a request from the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, which requested that Central Maine Power be barred from disconnecting customers while the commission investigates reports of unexplainable charges.

The Portland Press Herald reports Commission Chairman Mark Vannoy offered a solution in which home customers who received high bills after Nov. 1 could pay the undisputed portion of the bill.

About 1,500 Central Maine Power customers have contacted the commission about high bills. The utility has argued that it has the right to collect payment for utility services, and to disconnect customers who don’t pay.

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