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Community Engagement

Maine Senate passes bill that would create state consumer-owned utility

The Maine Senate on June 17 passed a bill that would create a consumer-owned utility in the state called Pine Tree Power.

The bill, LD 1708, now heads to Maine Governor Janet Mills’s desk. If Mills signs the bill or allows 10 days to pass without either her signature or a veto, the bill will become law. This would put the question of consumer ownership of Maine’s grid on the ballot in November 2021.

Petition gathering on such a citizen-initiated referendum would begin this summer and would likely put the question on the ballot in November 2022, the same year that Mills is up for re-election, according to a group called Our Power, which supports the creation of a consumer-owned utility in the state.

The consumer-owned entity that would be created under the bill would take over the electric service now provided by Central Maine Power and Versant Power. Central Maine Power Company and Versant Power (formerly known as Emera Maine), are majority owned by Iberdrola of Spain and Emera of Canada, respectively.

The Maine House of Representatives passed the bill on June 15 by a vote of 76-64. The Senate voted in favor of the measure by a vote of 19-16.