Community Engagement

Maine’s House of Representatives passes bill that would create state consumer-owned utility

Maine’s House of Representatives on June 15 voted 76-64 in favor of a bill that would create a consumer-owned utility in the state called Pine Tree Power. The bill now moves on to a vote in the Maine Senate.

The Maine Legislature’s Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee on June 1 voted to advance the legislation, LD 1708. 

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.

LD 1708 passed the committee with minor revisions suggested by state utility regulators and should go to the Senate for initial floor votes in the next week, according to a group called Our Power, which supports the creation of a consumer-owned utility in the state.

In a recent editorial Maine’s Portland Press Herald said it supports the bill. “The new utility would be governed independently, use no state funds and the taxpayers would not be on the hook for any of its debt. We don’t need to be scared about a different business model, especially when the one we have now is not working,” the editorial said.

Poll finds strong support for the creation of a consumer-owned utility in Maine

Meanwhile, newly conducted public opinion polling shows that 75% of registered voters from across the state of Maine say they support the idea of replacing Central Maine Power and Versant with a local non-profit consumer-owned utility, according to research conducted by SurveyUSA.

According to SurveyUSA, 38% strongly support the idea; 37% say they somewhat support. Just 10% are opposed to the idea, while 7% somewhat oppose and 3% strongly oppose.

The research was conducted by SurveyUSA for Our Power.