Science & Environment

Maine Voters Say No To Public Power Takeover

Maine residents on Tuesday voted down an initiative that may have changed that state’s largest energy corporations with a nonprofit, consumer-owned utility, The Associated Press projected.

The measure — Question 3 — was the best profile of eight referendum questions on the November poll, with house owners of Maine’s two largest utilities, Central Maine Power and Versant Power, spending greater than $37 million to defeat the general public takeover. That quantity dwarfed the $1.1 million that the mission’s fundamental proponent spent, the Kennebec Journal reported.

The referendum posed this query to voters: “Do you want to create a new power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine?”

A “yes” vote was in favor of changing investor-owned corporations CMP and Versant with Pine Tree Power Company, a nonprofit, customer-owned utility. A “no” vote was for conserving the established order.

Question 3 finally failed, regardless of Maine’s utilities constantly ranking at or near the bottom amongst utilities nationwide for buyer satisfaction. CMP and Versant are subsidiaries of multinational vitality firms Avangrid and ENMAX, respectively, and account for 97% of Maine’s electrical energy distribution.

Recent polling foreshadowed the referendum’s defeat, discovering that 56% of Maine voters deliberate to vote towards Pine Tree Power, in comparison with 31% who deliberate to vote “yes” and 13% who have been undecided.

The vote is the most recent in a multi-year battle over the way forward for Maine’s electrical grid. Opponents and supporters of Pine Tree Power wildly disagree about what a public takeover would value, in addition to what it will imply for charges and grid reliability.

Opponents of the measure, together with energy corporations, labor unions and Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D), argued that approving Pine Tree Power would saddle ratepayers with debt and inject politics into supply energy throughout the state.

“The Pine Tree Power scheme to seize Maine’s electric grid by eminent domain would create a government-controlled utility—and we would all be on the hook for the cost,” Maine Affordable Energy, a coalition that opposed the takeover, wrote on its web site. “The debt that comes with taking over the utilities—an estimated $13.5 billion—is more than twice the entire state budget. It could put us at risk for higher taxes or cuts to critical services we rely on.”

Supporters of the referendum maintained {that a} consumer-owned utility would finally decrease charges, enhance reliability and supply the native management wanted to aggressively confront the specter of local weather change and meet renewable vitality targets. They additionally disputed that the acquisition would value $13.5 billion, placing the value tag closer to $5 billion.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine, an environmental group that endorsed the referendum, said forward of the vote that Pine Tree Power gave Maine its “best chance for the leadership, low-cost financing, and properly aligned utility incentives we need to accelerate the clean energy transition.”

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