Pine Tree Power says they would be more reliable than CMP, poll shows many oppose the consumer owned utility

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 5:40 PM EDT
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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - In November’s election, Mainers will have to decide on whether or not to replace the state’s current power companies with a consumer-owned utility.

Pine Tree Power, the proposed replacement, says they will keep the lights on longer and for less, but opponents say otherwise.

Proponents of Pine Tree Power are saying their proposal isn’t just about lowering bills, they claim they would be more reliable.

“Right now, Maine has the worst reliability and the worst customer service in the whole country. It can’t get any worse, said Bill Dunn, a proponent of Pine Tree Power.

On the heels of post-tropical storm Lee, Pine Tree Power says one of the advantages to a consumer-owned utility is they would be able to receive FEMA assistance after declared disasters, whereas investor-owned utilities like CMP pass these costs on to customers.

“Public power utilities take a longer-term view. They invest upfront in better wires and better maintenance, and they can invest in better wires because they can finance it using tax-exempt debt,” said Dunn.

“Investor-owned utilities, they earn the money by investing in transmission, and very few outages are caused by outages on the transmission system, they’re caused by outages on the distribution system,” Dunn added.

Maine Affordable Energy Coalition, which opposes Pine Tree Power, sent Maine’s Total Coverage a statement saying, “there is absolutely nothing in the Pine Tree Power referendum that would guarantee more reliable service or lower rates. All they do is make promises that a state run power company will somehow do a better job restoring after a storm.”

A poll released by Maine Energy Progress on Friday showed that 54% of Maine voters oppose the proposal to replace CMP and Versant, while 31% support it, and 15% of voters are undecided.