Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

This week’s column almost didn’t make it in because the power went out. Again.

Power outages are an inconvenience for me. They are life-threatening for others.

The irony of it going out literally moments after I had opened my Central Maine Power bill to find an astronomical leap in cost was not lost on me. Who can afford this?

If there is any consolation to be had in this little temper tantrum I am having about paying sky-high rates for subpar service, it is that I am not alone in my outrage. Not by a long shot.

Things are so bad, and so obviously bad, that a 2019 article in the Bangor Daily News bears the headline “How Central Maine Power Failed its Customers and Still Increased Profits.” Wow.

As reported in a Maine Beacon article from last December, “the 2022 J.D. Power study … ranks CMP last by far among midsized utilities in the East Region for business customer satisfaction. In addition, the embattled company received the lowest score of all utilities around the country included in the study.”


That same article notes CMP has ranked last, dead last, in business customer and residential customer satisfaction alike for the last four years in a row. Four years. Dead last. “By far.”

That’s just embarrassing.

Fortunately, unlike me, who is just stomping around the house ranting, there are others out there actually taking action to make things better.

Our Power, a citizen-led group aiming to change the way our existing power grid operates, is aiming to launch Pine Tree Power, an entity they say will be “a not-for-profit electric utility for those parts of Maine now served by Central Maine Power and Versant. It will be governed by a board we choose, accountable only to us, and focused on meeting our goals for clean energy independence, lower costs, better reliability and improved internet.”

Towards this laudable goal, they have successfully gathered enough support to place the issue on the ballot for vote this November. The ballot measure will read “Do you want to create a new power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine?”

A “yes” vote will allow the creation of this new consumer-owned utility, and while the Maine initiative is being hailed as groundbreaking, there are other examples out there that organizers looked to when structuring.


The Pine Tree Power website notes that Winter Park, Florida, “repaid their acquisition cost in 10 years and dramatically increased reliability, even with bigger storm events in Florida.” And in Long Island, New York, “rates for customer-owners dropped by 20% … (and) remain lower than those of neighboring Con Edison.”

Getting that vote, however, will not be without the predictable surge of misleading information. As reported in a June 19 article in The Guardian, “the ballot initiative has already been outspent 17 to one by the parent companies of the two utilities, Avangrid and Enmax. Together, the two legacy power companies have given $18.4 million to three ballot committees, which have spent $16.5 million fighting back against what they see as an existential threat. Those committees received 100% of their funding from the utilities.”

Obviously, the power companies aren’t going to relinquish control without a struggle, and obviously you will want to make up your own mind about this issue, but I urge you to start reading now – and to think about the sources.

I, for one, am tired of feeling powerless and in the dark, so I will be voting for change.

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