A group in Maine on Oct. 31 submitted more than 80,000 signatures from voters in 422 Maine towns, which will allow for voters in the state next year to consider replacing investor-owned utilities in Maine with a statewide, consumer-owned utility.
Collected in just under a year, the signatures exceeded the 63,067 required to qualify for the general election ballot in November 2023.
The group, Our Power, said that if enough signatures are certified by the Maine Secretary of State, Maine voters will likely have the chance to vote on the question next year, unless the measure is passed outright by the next Maine Legislature and Governor.
If approved by voters, the initiative would replace Central Maine Power and Versant with the Pine Tree Power Company, a privately-operated, nonprofit, consumer-owned utility.
The initiative does not allow for state ownership or for the use of tax dollars, and the new company would not serve the parts of Maine (97 towns) already served by existing nonprofit utilities.
According to a local news report, another group called the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition also submitted more than 92,000 signatures in opposition to Our Power's proposal, but also to “force a referendum on any new Maine state government debt of more than $1 billion.”