In a few days the state legislature can decide to allow Maine people to take control of our State’s two failing electric utilities – CMP and Versant/Bangor Hydro – which rank at the bottom for reliability and customer satisfaction nationwide and charge high rates too.

The Pine Tree Power bill sailed through the Energy and Utilities Committee with a 10-3 vote from a bipartisan group of legislators who heard the testimony and examined the facts. The bill then passed in the House and Senate. Then, the foreign corporations that own our two large electric utilities engaged an army of lobbyists who persuaded two Senators to change their votes. On Tuesday, June 30, there is one last chance for the Senate to vote again and pass LD 1708.

I urge legislators and fellow Mainers to consider the benefits of converting our current foreign government and investor-owned utilities to customer ownership as the Pine Tree Power Company. The proposal for a customer takeover, will create a company responsive to and serving Maine’s electricity customers instead of distant investors. And, the bill clearly states: “The Pine Tree Power Company is not permitted to use general obligation bonds or tax dollars of the State.”

Maine has eight consumer-owned electric utilities that provide better and more reliable service. By some estimates, Pine Tree Power will save us $9 billion over 30 years by eliminating corporate profits and qualifying for low-cost bonds. Perhaps even more importantly, Pine Tree Power will help us fight climate change and boost internet through better interconnection policies for solar and broadband.

I’ve represented consumers before the PUC for 23 years and can foresee how much better things could be under LD 1708. I hope Maine’s legislators let us decide this important issue on the ballot this fall.

Wayne R. Jortner

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