AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Thursday night voted down a bill to form a consumer-owned utility to buy the assets of Central Maine Power and Versant Power, reversing the results of initial Senate action and considerably dimming the bill’s chances of passing the Legislature this session.
The measure passed the Senate a day earlier on a preliminary vote of 19-16, but it failed by a single vote on final enactment, 17-18. There was no debate in the Senate chamber on the matter Thursday, and an effort to keep the bill alive early Friday morning in the House was rejected as the Legislature adjourned, likely not returning until June 30.
The bill has seen both bipartisan support and opposition. Flipping their votes on the bill in the Senate were Sen. David Woodsome. R-North Waterboro, and Sen. Ned Claxton, D-Auburn....................
..................The bill also would need to be ratified in a statewide vote in November, should it pass the Legislature and survive a veto.
Supporters of the measure have touted it as a way for the state to regain control of its power grid and lower prices while improving service and reliability. But opponents have argued against what they see as a government-initiated takeover of two private businesses, and have said the state, through its Public Utilities Commission, already has a mechanism to protect ratepayers.
Berry, in a late-night plea to House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, asked that adjournment be delayed so an amendment to the bill could be completed in hopes of bringing it back before the House and Senate. But that request was denied and the House adjourned at about 1:10 a.m. Friday, with the Senate following soon after..............
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