A consumer-owned power utility is like a public school, library or park. Local elected officials make sure that the needs of the utility’s owners – you and me, citizens and consumers – are met. This close connection between community and utility is what makes publicly owned power companies so much more generous than their investor-owned counterparts.

In addition to payments in lieu of taxes, public utilities offer free or low-cost electricity for municipal buildings, streetlights and public parking; installation of temporary lighting for special events, and wiring upgrades for aging public buildings. When all monetary, in-kind and direct service contributions are totaled, consumer-owned utilities give 33 percent more to their communities than do investor-owned utilities.

Maine’s disaffection with Central Maine Power is not unique. In the 1970s, citizens in Massena, New York, were fed up with investor-owned Niagara Mohawk Power. When they organized to create a locally owned, community-based power utility, Niagara Mohawk went into overdrive to protect their monopoly.

“Tax revenues will plummet!”

“Electric rates will triple.”

“Thousands will lose their jobs.”


“Reliability will collapse!”

Didn’t happen. Massena’s public utility makes annual payments in lieu of taxes so the town’s revenue did not fall. Electric rates went down, workers were not laid off and grid reliability improved. This is the real story of consumer-owned utilities.

Vote “yes” for Pine Tree Power.

Susan F. Feiner

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