I am writing today to support the proposal put forward by Gordon L. Weil, in his Aug. 28 Maine Voices column, to create a public power entity for Maine.

Having worked for nine years with the public power entities in Massachusetts and represented all New England public power entities on the New England Power Pool Operations Committee, I know firsthand how focused on customer service and reliability the public power utilities are, whether a municipal (like Kennebunk) or a cooperative (like Washington Electric Cooperative).

Mr. Weil mentions, near the end of his opinion piece, the reliability issue, but doesn’t mention why public power entities are more reliable. Part of the reason is that many of them use stronger and insulated distribution wires. These wires, while a bit more expensive to purchase and install, can continue operating with trees and branches leaning on them. In fact, they can support all but the largest trees without shorting out.

One might ask: How can public power utilities do this and have lower rates? The answers are as enumerated in Mr. Weil’s column, the major one being they don’t have to earn a profit. While they also don’t pay local property taxes, most that I’ve been associated with make payments in lieu of taxes (which are similar to property taxes) to their local municipalities.

In addition, public power entities maintain sufficient staff to service their lines in the event of a disruption and don’t try to maximize profits by cutting staff and their capital investments after their rates have been approved. Plus, the public power entities have robust mutual aid arrangements such that if one is experiencing higher-than-normal outages, others send crews to their aid.

It would be great if, in November, we elected legislators who’d give serious consideration to Mr. Weil’s proposal.

Bill Dunn


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