As the Portland Charter Commission continues its work to review and revise the city charter, they should include in their final recommendation creating a municipal power authority in Portland, often referred to as a consumer-owned utility.

Currently, 97 Maine towns and cities have consumer-owned utilities. One of the most successful is in nearby Kennebunk. Kennebunk Light & Power has been operating since 1893 and provides top-notch reliability at the lowest rates in the state. Talk to anyone there and they will tell you how much they love their power company.

Why is that? Because the utility is owned and operated by and for its customers. That means the company works hard to preempt major problems and keep rates reasonable for all.

Compare that to Central Maine Power, which has made itself an enemy of renewable energy and offers Portlanders the nation’s worst outage record at the 10th highest rates and dismal customer satisfaction.

The commission should consider this as an opportunity to separate from such an unreliable and expensive company as CMP. Importantly, a local mandate would not get in the way of state-level efforts; it would actually complement the statewide push for a consumer-owned utility. Putting it in the charter would also ensure that we will never have to worry about lobbyists influencing a future City Council to bring CMP back without our permission.

I hope the commissioners jump at this opportunity to reduce the cost of living for Portlanders, provide more reliable service and put us in control of our energy future.

Andrew Blunt

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