Originally published at ILSR.org
Electric customers in Maine, who are fed up with lousy utility service, can use a ballot initiative to take back their power.
For this episode of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, a rebroadcast from the Building Local Power Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Maine State Representative Seth Berry. Berry was the Maine House sponsor of LD 1708, a bill to establish a consumer-owned utility, and serves as Chair of the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology. Farrell and Berry discuss Our Power Maine: the ongoing initiative to kick investor-owned utilities to the curb and establish a consumer-owned utility in Maine.
Listen to the full episode and explore more resources below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.
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Mainers dissatisfied with their electric utilities
Most Mainers (people who live in Maine) are served by one of two investor-owned electric utilities: Central Maine Power or Versant Power. These two companies have “failed Maine,” says Berry. They have hiked up rates, dragged their heels on solar, and are two of the least reliable utilities in the nation. Central Maine Power, says Berry, has ranked last in customer satisfaction ratings for three years running. Versant Power is not much better, claiming the third-to-last place.
Berry believes these utilities are failing Maine because their decisions are made overseas. Iberdrola, a multinational corporation based in Spain, holds the majority share in Central Maine Power. Versant Power, formerly Emera Maine, was purchased by Enmax in 2020. Enmax is a Canadian corporation.
There’s no question that the people of Maine are fed up with these utilities and their poor performance. And I believe the people of Maine also understand what’s really driving it, which is some larger economic and governance issues
After learning about the success of Vermont utility Green Mountain Power, which is a certified B-corporation,