As clean-energy activists from Boulder, Colorado, and Maine, we urge Mainers to support Question 3. Pine Tree Power is worth the effort! We’re proud of what Boulder won from Xcel Energy in our separation campaign and the decarbonization results for Colorado. Maine also should fight for local control, lower rates, better reliability and service – and a meaningful shot at decarbonization by getting off oil.

We also write to take back Boulder’s story, which Central Maine Power is hijacking. You know CMP is using profits from your pockets to pour millions into disinformation against Pine Tree Power. You can be sure they are twisting the truth about Boulder’s fight, which catalyzed Colorado’s statewide progress on clean energy.

When we began, Xcel used over 90% fossil fuels for electricity generation. Worse, they were building a new coal plant that would run until 2070! Xcel refused to recognize its role in the climate crisis and bowed to no one – not the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, the state legislature or the courts.

So Boulder mounted a fight that utilities fear most. Over 10 years, we passed four measures to separate legally and recruited a growing flank of Colorado municipalities as allies. In 2018 – after a decade of intense pressure – Xcel finally acknowledged the climate crisis with a plan to retire their coal plants in a statewide shift from 90% fossils when we began to 80% renewables by 2030.

In 2020, Boulder voters narrowly accepted a pause on our effort to separate. Nearly half wanted to continue, but the pandemic made it impossible to knock on doors and educate voters. Still, Boulderites are proud of the progress made in our settlement agreement, with concessions from Xcel that are probably unprecedented in U.S. utility history. They include Xcel committing to help Boulder achieve 100% clean energy by 2030, plus undergrounding Boulder’s power lines and several “off ramps” to resume the separation fight.

Was this worth our time and investment? Absolutely! Xcel takes almost as much out of our community every year in profits as we spent over 10 years helping the entire state clean its emissions.


CMP quotes former Boulder Mayor Will Toor to imply falsely that we have regrets, while omitting that Mr. Toor was not mayor during our campaign. Our leaders during the 10-year effort have all strongly supported it, including Mayors Susan Osborne, Matt Appelbaum, Suzanne Jones and Aaron Brockett, as well as many City Council members plus state legislative champions Edie Hooton and Steve Fenberg. They fight for a livable planet for us all.

CMP also makes false claims about cost and legal delays. In fact, Maine’s effort will be both faster and cheaper than Boulder’s. Why? First, the study commissioned by Maine’s PUC projected a switch in less than five years. Boulder’s effort took longer, stemming largely from an aim to take assets outside of the city limits. Maine’s Question 3 will not take assets in New Hampshire – simple!

Second, Boulder needed to reengineer its grid. Separating a local grid is almost always worth it, as Winter Park, Florida, and Jefferson County, Washington, have shown, but it adds costs. But again, Maine has no such challenge. You will purchase a complete, existing network with no need to rewire it. Maine is well situated to benefit – saving time and money with you owning your grid.

Do not be disheartened or deterred. Where public power has been supported, it has succeeded. Importantly, CMP’s cynical messaging implies that winning is only binary – but Boulder has proved it’s a process of relentless pressure where you lose some but win a lot.

Maine residents are tough. So know this: Win or lose, you can change an ethically obtuse monopoly only by bringing a bruising fight and keeping at it. Any state that agrees widely on this matter, as Maine does from rural woods to the coastal towns, can certainly dismantle a wayward, money-grubbing utility.

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