I am so disappointed in the Press Herald’s coverage of Thursday’s public hearing on L.D. 1708, the act to create Pine Tree Power. Very little space was given to the complaints of many of the supporters of L.D. 1708 that Central Maine Power and Versant are dismal failures in service to their customers and in the operation of their transmission and distribution systems.

No mention was made of the fact that CMP ranked dead last in business customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power, in 2020, 2019 and 2018. (Versant wasn’t rated.)  With respect to residential customer satisfaction, CMP and Versant were two of the three lowest-rated utilities in 2020 and the two lowest rated in 2019, out of 142 utilities.

And their reliability was just as bad. In 2019 (the last year of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration), CMP’s and Versant’s Maine customers suffered an average of almost 17 hours of outages, over three times the outage durations suffered by customers of other profit-driven U.S. utilities and eight times the outages for customer-driven utilities. This was not unusual. The CMP and Versant profit-driven outage rate was 2.1 times higher than the outage rate for all U.S. profit-driven utilities in 2018; 6.3 times higher in 2017 and 2.5 times higher in 2016. Yes, Maine has a lot of trees, but it doesn’t have many hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes or raging forest fires.

The time has come for Maine to relinquish its lamentable title as the state with the least reliable electricity supply and lowest customer satisfaction. It’s time to pass L.D. 1708 and let the ratepayers in Maine decide if they want to trade in profit-driven CMP and Versant for customer-driven Pine Tree Power.

Bill Dunn

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