Blueberries, bean boots, and blackouts. Welcome to Maine, where CMP and Versant hold a monopoly on our power while charging high prices for unreliable service.
Maine Public Power is a group of people, working to replace CMP and Versant with a consumer-owned utility that Mainers would own and democratically control through an elected board of directors.
What’s more, through this effort, Maine Public Power will build organizing strength across the state, strength we can turn to the next campaign and the next and the next. Because, as great as a consumer-owned utility would be, we need so much more.
Given CMP and Versant’s history of mismanagement, disconnecting service, over-billing, poor customer service, and limited investment in grid upgrades, this form of utility stands to significantly improve service and reduce costs for the people of Maine while prioritizing decarbonization efforts.
Electricity flows from generators to users through the grid, a network of poles, wires, and other gear.
Most of Maine’s grid is run by two unpopular for-profit companies, Versant (whose parent company is wholly-owned by the Canadian city of Calgary) and Central Maine Power (whose parent company is largely owned by the Spanish multinational Avangrid).
Our society is using electricity to meet more and more energy needs, including heating buildings and powering cars. Fighting climate change and responding to increasing electricity demand will require a heavier-duty, more-reliable, renewables-friendlier grid—but Versant and CMP aren’t building it.
How will the proposed legislation work?
Maine ratepayers would buy Versant’s and CMP’s share of the grid at fair market price using money raised by low-interest revenue bonds paid for by electricity sales. The resulting COU would be a regulated nonprofit, not an arm of the State. Utility workers would keep their jobs and union contracts. Towns would continue to get the same tax income they now get from Versant and CMP. The voting members of the COU’s governing board would be elected by the people of Maine.
A bill enabling Mainers to vote in November, 2021 on whether they want a COU was recently passed by the Maine Legislature. Unfortunately, Gov. Mills vetoed L.D. 1708 in an anti-democratic move, preventing Maine voters from making our own decision on replacing CMP and Versant with a consumer-owned power utility. Fine by us: we’re ready to get the signatures we need to put it on the ballot anyway. We’re getting started with informational canvassing and tabling events.