A recent Maine Voices column (Oct. 19) argued that public ownership of Central Maine Power and Versant would, “provide a path to a cleaner, more resilient Maine.”

The writer seems unaware of the fact that neither CMP nor Versant generate energy. These utilities merely transmit energy (whether green or fossil fuel) via a grid system from where it is produced to where it is used by individual businesses and homes. They work cooperatively within a six-state New England grid system to accomplish this end.

Decisions as to whether Maine, in response to global warming, will generate more green energy in the future or continue its heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy (mainly natural gas) are not made by CMP or Versant. These decisions are made by other energy producing corporations operating in Maine. It follows that public ownership of these utilities’ assets will not, in any direct way, benefit Maine’s environment or deal with the climate crisis.

The column further asserted that public ownership would reduce rising energy costs. Not so. If one looks at the two component factors in the rising energy cost curve, i.e., the cost of energy production (mainly from gas, oil, and coal) and the cost of energy delivery by firms like the existing utilities, it is undisputed that the costs of energy production have (for years) risen far more sharply than the costs of energy transmission. It logically follows that a publicly owned utility will not moderate (much less reduce) energy costs borne by Maine users.

Perhaps the most unwise and far-reaching change that proponents of Pine Tree Power would put in place is that, as the column set out, “Mainers will call the shots, not executives in a boardroom.”

Without any supporting data or facts, this factor alone is asserted to be better than the status quo and justifies spending billions of dollars to acquire the grid system.


This assertion ignores the fact that many of these tossed-aside executives have years of experience managing a technically complex and evolving infrastructure system. It ignores the fact that the Mainers they would put in place are nameless – their background and experience is unknown.

In my view, the phrase “Mainers will call the shots” smacks of hubris/arrogance. History suggests it is an unjustified arrogance. A similar complex infrastructure system – our roads and bridges – has been run by Mainers (the Legislature and Maine’s Department of Transportation) for over 50 years. A recent (2021) report by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, noted that Maine’s rural roads and bridges are among the poorest in the country. The report noted that: “Statewide, 44% of Maine’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition,” and that 13% of Maine’s bridges are in poor, structurally deficient condition, the sixth-highest share in the U.S.

Similarly, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ recent evaluation of Maine’s roads and bridges gave Maine roads a D grade and our bridges a C-. The D grade was not a one-off; the ASCE noted: “Maine roads received a D grade in all four report cards since 2008.” The report noted: “Maine’s sprawling, underfunded network of state and local roads has been in bad shape for years.”

In sum, putting Mainers in charge, having them “call the shots” in settings where essential, complex infrastructure systems must be built, maintained and upgraded is not prudent. The record with respect to roads and bridges is mediocre at best; many would say it’s unacceptable. There is no reason to believe that putting Mainers in charge of our grid system would produce better results. For the above reasons, I’m voting “no” on Question 3.

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