Breaking Down the Ballot: Hear what supporters & opposers have to say about Question 1

Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 6:01 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The first measure on the November ballot stems from a complicated debate that Mainers will soon face, Question 3.

It asks do voters want to create a new consumer-owned utility, Pine Tree Power.

However, before voters decide on that matter, question 1 is just as important.

Many will ask, what does Question 1 mean? We spoke with Willy Ritch, the executive director of Maine Affordable Energy Coalition who opposes question 3.

“It says if the government is going to take on a debt of a billion dollars or more, voters of the state should be able to have a say,” said Ritch.

The push for Question 1 was run by those opposed to Question 3, serving as a safety net if the Pine Tree power referendum gets approved.

Supporters of Pine Tree, like Al Cleveland who is the campaign manager of Our Powers says it’s a scare tactic.

“It’s another example of CMP and their parent company using political campaigning as a way to erode our democracy and pouring money that should be going to fix our ‘worst in the nation customer service and reliability’ into fearing and scaring voters,” said Cleveland.

The problem comes down to how much Pine Tree Power will cost.

“First of all, there’s never been an occasion where the government or the state has wanted to take on more than a billion dollars in debt, never anything close,” said Ritch.

“The only thing that could trigger this is the Pine Tree Power referendum.”

Supporters at a recent forum at Bowdoin College say Mainers will save $9.1-billion over a 30-year-span according to an economic analysis.

However, opposers say according to a 2020 study from the Maine Public Utilities Commission it’ll get Mainers in $13.5-billion of debt just to buy the assets of CMP and Versant.

“You can’t know whether we’re going to save money or not if you don’t know how much we’re paying for the utilities,” said Ritch.

“So this was our way to hold them accountable and say look before you all of us as Mainers on the hook for 10, 13, 15 billion dollars in debt, you have to come to us with actual numbers and get our approval.”

So voting yes to Question 1 requires voter approval of certain entities or consumer-owned utilities that accrues a total debt of more than a billion dollars.

Voting no opposes voter approval giving Mainers no say in the total debt of consumer-owned utilities that exceeds 1 billion dollars.

If you want more information on the Pine Tree Power campaign you can head to their website.

If you’re looking for information on voting no to Pine Tree Power, you can head to the No Pine Tree Power website.