A line worker with Central Maine Power tests power lines in Oakland on Dec. 24, 2022. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel, file

Money is continuing to pour in to defeat a November referendum proposing a public takeover of electric utilities, with the owners of Maine’s two largest power companies spending more than $37 million so far to defeat the question, including more than $26 million this year alone.

Proponents of Question 3, meanwhile, have raised and spent far less.

The leading backer of the referendum, Our Power, has spent $1.1 million, including $588,000 spent this year. The group has raised $1.2 million and has just under $45,000 cash on hand, according to newly filed campaign finance reports.

The fundraising and spending reports were due before midnight Friday and are the final periodic reports before Election Day, which is Nov. 7.

Political observers had predicted that the battle over control of Maine’s electrical grid would be one of the most expensive referendum elections in state history.

But with a little over one week to go before Election Day, it appears spending will fall far short of the $90 million that was spent in the 2021 fight over Central Maine Power Co.’s proposed New England Clean Energy Connect corridor.


Maine Affordable Energy, the ballot question committee controlled by CMP’s parent company, Avangrid, has raised $23.7 million in its fight against Question 3, about half of which was raised this year. The group has $360,000 in cash on hand. Most of its spending this year has been on professional services such as graphic design and legal services, followed by social media and online advertising.

Maine Energy Progress, the committee controlled by Versant’s parent company, Enmax, has raised $16.1 million – almost all this year – and spent $14.5 million. It has $1.9 million in cash on hand and has spent more than $7.4 million on television ads, production, and media.

Most of the money spent by Our Power has been on personnel and campaign staff, consulting, and independent contractor costs. Its largest donor is the San Francisco-based 128 Collective, which focuses on climate change policy, and gave $150,000. Contributions made in the most recent reporting period, covering most of October, were mostly small donations from individuals.

Maine voters will consider eight statewide referendums on Nov. 7, and Question 3 has been the most expensive and hotly contested. It proposes creating a new publicly owned and controlled power company by taking over the assets of Central Maine Power and Versant Power, which together distribute 97% of Maine’s electricity.

William Thieme, a supporter of Question 3, a public takeover of Maine’s electric utilities. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The new utility, called Pine Tree Power, would buy the assets of the two companies and hire a third-party operator to oversee the day-to-day management of the grid – the power lines that bring electricity from transmission stations to homes and businesses.

Supporters say the move would save money, provide for more local control, improve reliability, and lower rates. Opponents reject the notion that there would be cost savings and say there are too many unknowns of how the plan would work.



While Question 3 has by far attracted the most spending, another referendum – Question 4 – has also seen money come in. Question 4 would give car owners and independent mechanics access to the advanced technology and information needed to fix modern vehicles.

The Automotive Right to Repair committee, which backs the question, has raised $4.9 million and spent $4.7 million, including $3.7 million spent this year alone. The committee has spent $2.1 million on television ads, production, and media.

The group has received $1.3 million from the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality, which is pushing so-called “right to repair” laws throughout the country. Other large donors include corporations that repair vehicles and sell auto parts such as AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts.

Automakers and Repairers for Vehicle Repair Choice, the primary group opposing Question 4, has raised just $110,000 and spent $104,000. All of that funding came from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents auto manufacturers. Nearly all of the group’s spending – $90,000 – has been directed to social media and online ads.

No Blank Checks, a ballot question committee backing Question 1 that is funded by Maine Affordable Energy and Avangrid, has raised $1.3 million and spent $1.2 million. Question 1 would require voter approval before a quasi-governmental or consumer-owned utility could borrow more than 1 billion dollars and would create another avenue for utility companies to fight a public takeover if Question 3 passes.

Protect Maine Elections, which supports Question 2, has raised $820,000 and spent $750,000. Question 2 seeks to prohibit foreign governments and entities they control or influence from spending money on state and local referendum campaigns.

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