Breaking: Maine legislature passes bill to purchase Central Maine Power and create publicly owned electric utility

Maine residents rallied at the capitol in Augusta June 30 to urge lawmakers to pass L.D. 1708. The bill passed both houses of the legislature, and now goes to Gov. Janet Mills’ desk. The legislation replaces Central Maine Power with a publicly-owned utility.

Gov. Mills has 10 business days after legislature approval to act. If she allows those 10 days to pass without her signature or a veto, the bill becomes law.

Our Power

Our Power Maine’s June 30 press release –

https://ourpowermaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/our-power-press-release-final-6-30-21.pdf

Breaking News: Pine Tree Power Bill – L.D. 1708 – passes House and Senate, On to the Governor’s Desk

Today, after a brief recess, the Legislature has voted in favor of L.D. 1708 “An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company,” casting a bipartisan 77-68 vote in the House to attach an amendment to the bill that they supported two weeks ago. And the Senate voted 18-15 to support the new package. The bill now heads to Governor Janet Mills’ desk.

If Governor Mills signs the bill or allows 10 days to pass without either her signature or a veto, the bill will become law. This would put the question of consumer ownership of Maine’s grid on the ballot in November 2021.

Stephanie Clifford, campaign manager for Our Power, a coalition of Maine ratepayers, businesses, energy experts, conservationists, and dozens of grassroots organizations said, “Thank you legislators for voting in favor of L.D. 1708. We hope Governor Mills will do the right thing and send the bill to Maine voters so that this November we all have the opportunity to choose to put our energy future into Maine’s hands.”

“PIne Tree Power Company will be a consumer-owned electric utility that will lower costs, increase reliability and provide local control for Maine’s electric grid.”

Clifford continued saying, “L.D. 1708 passed despite intense lobbying by Maine’s investor-owned utilities, CMP and Versant. But a strong grassroots coalition of Maine people prevailed. This is a clear signal: Mainers are sick of dealing with the failures of investor-owned CMP and Versant, and we want to control our electricity future.”

An amendment introduced today revised the bill to require the Pine Tree Power Company to pay property taxes directly to Maine municipalities, while maintaining its nonprofit status. This replaced previous bill language requiring payments in lieu of taxes.

Representative Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), sponsor of L.D. 1708, said “This amendment spoke directly to Governor Mills’ top two concerns, and concerns voiced by some municipal leaders. We are pleased that the revised language won back the support needed to send this to Governor Mills, and hope to win her support for our effort as well.”

Clifford said, “If Governor Mills chooses to veto the bill against the will of Maine voters and legislators, we will continue our campaign through a citizens’ initiative. The Governor’s choice is not whether or not Maine voters will have a say on this, it is when we will all have a say.”

Petition gathering on such a citizen-initiated referendum would begin this summer and would likely put the question on the ballot in November 2022, the same day that Mills and all legislators are up for re-election.

June 28 News Advisory

https://ourpowermaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/our-power-press-release-6-28-21.pdf

Maine ratepayers, business leaders, energy experts, conservationists, and others committed to putting the Pine Tree State’s energy future in the hands of Mainers will rally urging legislators to pass LD 1708.

“Maine needs and deserves a consumer-owned utility that will be 100% focused on Mainers not of distant investors,” said campaign manager Stephanie Clifford. “This will save Maine billions of dollars and provide us with the better service Maine deserves too.”

Maine Investor-Owned Utility News round up:

1. Sound familiar? CMP ranks last in another customer survey of US utilities

I imagine you have already seen the 2020 JD Power surveys of residential and business customers, that rank CMP and Versant at the bottom. In fact, CMP has ranked at the bottom for three years running. Here’s yet another one:

“For this survey. Escalent polled 76,656 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 140 largest U.S. utility companies, based on residential customer counts.

“According to the firm, the resulting Brand Trust Index scores represent consumer ratings across six factors: customer focus, community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and company reputation. “CMP, the state’s largest electricity provider with 646,000 customers, received the lowest score among the electric utilities, and among all the utilities, period…

2. This sounds familiar too, like CMP’s playbook. Iberdrola Chairman Galan Named as Suspect in Criminal Probe (CMP is owned by Iberdrola)

“Iberdrola SA Chairman Ignacio Galan is being investigated by Spanish authorities for his alleged role in a corporate spying case….According to the court documents, Iberdrola’s security head at the time hired the firm led by the former police officer to gather intelligence and help “overcome obstacles” to gain the necessary permits.”


As you may recall here in Maine in 2020, “Clean Energy Matters, a political action committee funded by CMP, said it hired the private investigator” to track opponents of the company’s proposed transmission corridor.

CMP private investigator tailed anti-corridor petitioners

https://www.pressherald(dot)com/2020/03/05/central-maine-power-pac-admits-it-hired-private-investigator-to-keep-tabs-on-anti-corridor-petitioners/

More: Opponents of a controversial transmission line are condemning a Central Maine Power political action committee for hiring a private investigator to monitor their efforts to scuttle the project via ballot initiative.

3. And, CMP and Versant have each filed for 25% price hikes!

Perhaps you know that Versant, Maine’s most expensive mainland utility, now seeks a 25.4% rate hike. Did you know that CMP also announced a 25% rate hike as of August? (Maine PUC Docket 2021-00036 page 106)

Our Power is a group of Maine ratepayers, business leaders, energy experts, conservationists, and others committed to putting the Pine Tree State’s energy future in the hands of Mainers

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