The Maine Attorney General's Office has now heard from at least 40 homeowners who said a contractor from Howland, Mainem took thousands of dollars in deposit money from them for work that was never done.
The homeowners say say they hired Dave Ireland Builders to convert their home heating systems to natural gas because DIB was promoted in the literature that was being circulated by the utility, Summit Natural Gas.
When asked by NECN what happened to their deposit money, Ireland said he used it for "cash flow" to try to keep the business afloat. He says Summit is to blame for his most of his financial woes.
"I've liquidated assets - personal assets - but tried to keep things going based on promises that Summit Natural Gas was telling me about customers and service lines," said Ireland.
He says he tied his business plan to Summit's timeline of connecting thousands of customers to natural gas in 2014. When that didn't happen, he says he got into a financial hole he couldn't get out of and was forced to close his business last week.
Ireland says he plans to repay the 50-70 customers affected customers over the next two years by taking on extra work. That's small comfort for customers like David and Allison Ginsberg of Cumberland who are out $2,500 in deposit money.
"There's no way we can convert to natural gas now," said Ginsberg. "We can't afford it."
Summit did not respond to questions regarding Ireland's accusations. Through an email via a PR firm, the company's director of business development, Mike Duguay, stated, "Our number one priority right now is our customers and we are focused on doing as much as possible to help them convert to natural gas."
Summit has offered to help affected customers find other contractors to do the conversions, but the company has not offered to help offset their financial loss.
Ireland is now working with Tom Brown, a bankruptcy attorney in Bangor. He says he is considering taking legal action against Summit.