The Maine Legislature is resuming work on a bill, with passage halted on June 18 by two last-minute vote changes, which would create a voter-elected board to buy out private state electric utilities Central Maine Power and Versant Power and take control of the state’s grid.
The bill comes amid overbilling and service reliability disputes.
"It will take years to understand all of the implications and resolve all of the issues this ... bill would create, including exactly how all private land and facility ownership will be addressed, said a spokeswoman for Avangrid Inc., which owns Central Maine Power, including how the action could affect the utility’s $1-billion, 145-mile transmission line project now underway. to bring Canadian hydroelectric power to New England.
Versant Power, saids in a June 22 statement, that “a government power takeover ... would put Mainers on the hook for billions of dollars of additional borrowing and spending."
If enacted, Gov. Janet Mills (D) would have 10 days to accept or veto the measure. She has expressed skepticism in public statements about a consumer-owned power utility.
Backers say they will seek a November 2022 state ballot measure if the legislation fails or is vetoed. They say a recent poll by Survey USA showed 75% of Mainers favor buying out the utilities to create a consumer-owned utility.