Electric customers would be responsible for $13.5 billion in debt triggered by takeover
October 31, 2022
For immediate release
Contact: Willy Ritch 207-841-8400
A proposal to seize Versant Power and Central Maine Power to form a government-run utility has been met with widespread opposition—from labor unions and business groups to over 9,000 Mainers who have signed a pledge to oppose the plan.
Supporters of a plan to seize Maine’s privately held electric utilities by eminent domain announced this morning that they had collected enough signatures to put this issue on the ballot in 2023. The Secretary of State’s office has a month to review the signatures to see how many of them are valid.
After the announcement today, members of the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition spoke out against the proposal. Over 9,000 individual Mainers and a diverse range of nearly 50 businesses and other organizations have joined the coalition and pledged to fight the proposed seizure of the state’s utilities.
Ben Waxman, a well-known Labor activist and co-owner of Westbrook clothing manufacturer American Roots said he’s opposed to the takeover because of the impact it would have on workers. “Seizing the utilities and creating an electric authority run by elected politicians is not a good deal for workers,” Waxman said. “It puts the hard-earned contracts that CMP and Versant workers have negotiated at risk and would lead to these workers losing some of their fundamental rights as union members.”
Like American Roots, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce is also a member of the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition and opposes the referendum:
“This proposal to take over CMP and Versant would cost us billions of dollars in debt–debt that Mainers would have to pay off for years through higher electric bills. This proposal is bad for businesses, bad for workers and bad for anyone who has to pay an electric bill. It’s simply too expensive for Maine,” said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber.
Maine Affordable Energy Coalition members include the state’s biggest labor organizations, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, American Roots, Gritty McDuff’s, Governors, VIP Tour, Hospitality Maine, Moody’s Diner, and dozens more.
“Like any business in Maine, we are facing rising costs every day, and the last thing we need to do is put ourselves billions of dollars in debt to take over the electric companies,” said Jason Briggs from VIP Tour and Travel. “The price of just about everything has gone up in our business, and that’s presented a real challenge to businesses across the state. This is not the time to try and create a new utility run by politicians and saddled with a debt that will have to be paid off through our electric bills.”
A recent statewide poll of likely voters in Maine found that an overwhelming majority believe a state takeover of the Maine’s electric utilities would lead to higher electric bills. Voters were asked “Do you think your electric bill is more likely to go up or down if the state government takes over delivery of electricity?” Seventy-seven percent of voters said their bills would be “more likely to go up” and only 23% said they believed their bills would be “more likely to go down.” (Pan Atlantic Research’s state-wide Omnibus Poll which surveyed 800 likely voters across the state from October 7th-15th.) (For detailed explanation and citations, see attached “Pine Tree Power Fact Sheet.”)