Official question asks if Mainers want “quasi-governmental power company”
February 1, 2022
For immediate release
Contact: Willy Ritch 207-841-8400 | [email protected]
Maine’s Secretary of State released the official ballot language for a proposal to seize the state’s utilities and create a “quasi-governmental” power authority that would be run by elected officials. State law requires that ballot language for statewide referendums be fair and objective and written in a “clear, concise and direct manner.” The final wording that Secretary of State Shenna Bellows released is:
“Do you want to create a new quasi-governmental power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine?”
Bellows released a draft of her ballot language in December, and during a 30-day comment period the proponents of Pine Tree Power repeatedly asked or demanded that she change “quasi-governmental” to “consumer-owned.” Pine Tree Power activists submitted over 100 comments asking for that change.
“The Pine Tree Power campaign wanted the ballot question to use words and phrases from their campaign advertising, but in the end it was clear that they weren’t accurately representing what’s at stake here,” said Willy Ritch, executive director of the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition.
“The Secretary of State boiled a complex proposal down to a straightforward question—do you want to take over the state’s utilities and put our grid in the hands of a government power authority run by elected politicians,” Ritch said. “What’s missing is the fact that the takeover would be mandatory if Pine Tree Power passes and would involve the largest use of eminent domain in the state’s history. Also missing is the cost—it’s important for Mainers to know that there is no free lunch. Seizing the utilities would put on the hook for a $13.5 billion debt.”