The Maine Legislature passed L.D. 1708, An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company, in a final vote last Wednesday. Now, Gov. Mills has the historic opportunity to provide Mainers with a say in how and where they get their electricity.

The people of Maine deserve this choice.

Public power makes eminent sense for the Pine Tree State at this time of historic change for the region and the nation.

The decision to make Maine a public power state has not and will not be a hasty one.

In fact, the people of Maine and their elected representatives in Augusta have spent years taking a hard look at the public power model to determine if it’s the right choice.

They have done their homework, and they are ready to take the next step.

Lawmakers and community stakeholders are to be commended for the due diligence and careful assessment that led up to this week’s vote. They have been asking experts important questions and exploring other states that have successfully made the switch to public power to ensure it is the right choice for Maine.

With the decision now in Gov. Mills’ hands, it seems like an excellent opportunity to review the benefits of the public power model and why it has attracted so much popular support in Maine and across the nation.

In the run-up to last week’s vote, skeptics have resorted to scare tactics and specious comparisons to cast doubt on the public power model. I encourage Gov. Mills to tune out the hyperbole and eschew the false comparisons that have bubbled up in the 11th hour.

Mainers who may still have good-faith concerns about what public power means for their state should look to non-profit power utilities of comparable size like Sacramento Municipal Utility District in Sacramento, California, Salt River Project in Arizona, and the Nebraska Public Power District.

They will find that these not-for-profit public utilities are able to provide low-cost, reliable service to their customers while innovating and embracing renewable energy – and without having to be beholden to their investors’ bottom lines.

When compared against other types of utilities, as a whole, public power consistently excels in the areas most important to customers: cost, reliability and environmental stewardship.

The appeal of the public power model is a natural fit for a state like Maine, which puts a high premium on local choice and local decision-making.

The proposed Pine Tree Power Co. would likely be more responsive to those needs than the current system, because a public power utility is owned by – and accountable to – the customers it serves.

This model stands in stark contrast to private, investor-owned power utilities that are accountable to investors who often live out of state and even in foreign countries.

It has been a long time in the making, but the transition to public power is an idea whose time has come in Maine. As president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, representing more than 2,000 community-owned electric utilities that collectively provide not-for-profit electricity to 49 million Americans, I respectfully encourage Gov. Mills to sign the bill into law and allow voters to have a say in their energy future.

The last thing the people of Maine want or need is for this well-thought-out, forward-looking decision to be dragged down by misinformation about – and misunderstanding of – the public power model.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.