A proposal to purchase Maine’s two investor-owned electric utilities and replace them with a state-owned power delivery authority has stalled due to lack of support.
In July, Maine State Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) introduced a bill in the legislature to allow for the state to transition to a consumer-owned utility, but ultimately the bill was amended to instead create a task force to study the issue. The legislation, LD 1646, was approved 8-1 by the committee, but the bill died upon the conclusion of the 129th Legislature on Nov. 16.
A request was also filed in September with Maine’s Secretary of State by local residents hoping to create a consumer-owned utility through a referendum on the 2021 or 2022 ballot. The application was similar to Rep. Berry’s bill..................
The Maine Chamber of Commerce, along with Maine utilities, recently worked with Public Policy Polling to conduct a poll to see how Mainers are responding to the possibility of a government takeover of the Maine power grid.
The results of the poll of 865 registered voters conducted on Oct. 16-17 found that 58 percent of Maine residents think Maine’s electric power companies should remain privately-owned companies regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, 19 percent prefer borrowing up to $13 billion to take control of Maine’s electric power companies and transferring management of our electricity to a government-controlled agency run by a board of elected politicians, and 23 percent of voters are unsure about the proposal.
“Shifting one of Maine’s most vital services from private ownership to a government-controlled model will cost Mainers billions of dollars, result in years of costly litigation, and create uncertainty in our electric grid at a time when stability is needed to meet key investments, like meeting Maine’s renewable energy goals,” said Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “It is clear that a majority of Mainers think a government takeover of our power grid is not in the best interest of our state.”