A group of lawmakers is proposing a consumer-owned utility company that they say would reduce costs and encourage sustainability.
Several representatives are involved in the push to get the Pine Tree Power Company approved, in an effort to create a utility company that's owned by Mainers and run by Mainers. They say many residents and business owners have been unhappy with Central Maine Power and Versant because their perceived goal is making money, rather than recognizing the importance of keeping the state's power grid running. Central Maine Power's Parent Company is California-based Avangrid, which is owned by Iberdrola, based in Spain. Versant Power is owned by ENMAX, which operates out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
On the surface, the proposal looks promising. Any Mainer who has spent days, or even weeks, in the dark and cold while they waited for utility crews to repair their service would likely appreciate a locally-owned company that appreciates the challenges Mainers face during long outages. Proponents of the initiative say voters would decide who gets put into decision-making positions in the company.
However, it's important to do the research about whether a consumer-owned utility company would be the wise choice.
CMP's Catherine Hartnett told WMTW-TV in a statement:
"Mainers must fully understand that the purchase price for CMP assets will be passed on by the state to customers who will foot the bill for the government takeover through higher electricity bills to offset the costs of purchasing the company."
Versant Power's Communications Manager Judy Long said in a statement:
"A government power takeover will threaten our state's ability to do the work our citizens demand to keep pace with an evolving energy landscape."
Legislators have put together a website that addresses many of the questions residents are likely to ask, and will follow the progress of the proposal.