As someone wrote to me about this:
"Berry is very progressive. He's been pushing this for a while and now it may go to a referendum vote. No one in their right mind would take over these unprofitable, capital intensive utilities. Versant would love to get their money back - they bought the damn company with a credit card. Avangrid would as well - CMP is a loser. They put the trans line in a separate LLC in prep for this move. The PUC is going to condemn these companies? How does that work? "
Dozens testifying on bill to create consumer-owned utility in Maine
Under the controversial proposal, regulators would direct a buy-out of Central Maine Power and Versant Power's infrastructure to create a nonprofit utility serving roughly 800,000 customers.
By Kevin Miller Staff Writer
Lawmakers were hearing hours of testimony Thursday on a controversial proposal to force a buy-out of Maine’s two major power companies and create a nonprofit, consumer-owned utility serving most of the state.
To supporters, the proposed Pine Tree Power Company is a way for residents to assert control over Maine’s energy future while lowering electricity prices and improving the reliability of the power grid. If approved by the Legislature, the bill would go to a statewide referendum later this year, allowing voters to decide whether to stick with Central Maine Power and Versant or make the historic transition to a consumer-owned utility.
Bill sponsor Rep. Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat and vocal critic of CMP, said Maine stands at a “historic crossroads” as the state strives to expand clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in part by converting to electric vehicles and home heat pumps. Berry talked repeatedly about Maine gaining “independence” from foreign, investor-owned utilities that he contends put a higher priority on profits than in investing in Maine’s power grid.
“Every month right now, the 800,000, captive combined customers of CMP and Versant pay monopoly rent for the use of a monopoly grid,” Berry told members of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, which he co-chairs. “With Pine Tree Power, we will pay a lower monthly bill and, equally important, it will no longer be a rental payment but rather a mortgage payment. We will save money, invest in and improve the grid, and build our own equity.”
Roughly 90 people had signed up to testify on the bill, L.D. 1708. While the committee had yet to hear from opponents as of early Thursday afternoon, an aggressive and well-funded campaign has portrayed the consumer-owned utility as a “government takeover” of Maine’s electric grid that could cost up to $13.5 billion without improving service.
“Proponents of a government seizure of the state’s electric grid make a lot of promises, but when examined closely, the facts just don’t back them up,” Maine Affordable Energy Coalition said in a press release. “Supporters of the proposal cherry pick statistics from single years or use utilities with as few as 900 customers as examples to justify their claims that a government-run utility would be more reliable, cheaper, or cleaner.”
Please read the rest here:
A proposal to create a consumer-owned public power company will get its second public vetting today. Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, saw his bill to create a company that would replace Maine’s biggest electricity providers weakened into a study bill last year as the coronavirus pandemic shut down the legislative season early. He is back, this time with the support of fellow Central Maine Power opponent Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, with a proposal that would put the decision to create the company in the hands of voters. It faces a public hearing in the energy committee at 10 a.m. Listen here.
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