Government-Controlled Power

$13.5 billion in debt = higher electric bills

A scheme to seize Maine’s electric grid by eminent domain would create a government-controlled utility—and we would all be on the hook for the cost. The debt that comes with taking over the utilities—an estimated $13.5 billion—is three times the entire state budget. And that’s a debt it would take decades to pay off through our electric bills.

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I have a special needs daughter and in the past when I’ve been behind on my bills, the electric company had always worked with me to keep the electricity on. If the government was in control, the bureaucracy would prevent that kind of assistance from continuing. I think a lot of people rely on the discretion of the companies to keep their electricity on and in my case, a loss of power could be life-threatening for my daughter.

— Colleen C, Bangor

Initially I supported the proposal but after learning the price tag and how most likely very little would change, I was shocked. The real cost is never discussed by supporters. It seems like a lot of trouble that ultimately is just not worth it. If it came up now, I would vote no.

— Rhonda M, Brewer

I’ve seen first hand how government-controlled grids do not end up working out well for ratepayers like me. When the government runs electrical grids, they always end up cutting back on things that are necessary for the grid, like trimming tall trees in rural areas. It’s obvious that this proposal would be a disaster for Maine.

— Fred B, Durham

I know that CMP may have had its issues but a government takeover is far from the right answer. Utilities, especially something as important as electricity, should be out of the grips of politics. We need to have a strong PUC, not an electric grid being changed based on partisan wrangling.

— Susan W, Bangor

I’m really worried about the ability of the government to properly respond to a power outage if this takeover is approved. Power companies like CMP & Versant have the experience and incentive to get power outages resolved as fast and effectively as possible. They’ve been managing the grid for decades and understand the intricacies of the system. How can we expect the government to quickly fix a problem they have never seen before?

— Francis B, Bangor

I definitely don’t support a proposal that would essentially separate Maine from the rest of the New England grid. I’m worried that companies in other states will see public power as a threat to themselves. If we had a bad winter or terrible storm, they wouldn’t be willing to help in order to protect themselves from their state making a similar choice. We should stick with our private power companies and trust that they have the resources to be there when we need them.

— James P, Bangor

After I heard the price tag of the takeover it was obvious the plan was unacceptable for Maine. At $13.5billion, there is no way loans of that amount would not significantly influence people’s bills. The government already makes enough money off of people and this is just another pie for them to stick their fingers into.

— Sean M, Bangor

I definitely do not want the government to own our grid. If the takeover goes through, the quality of the power grid will quickly go down. The Puerto Rican government owns their power infrastructure and it’s just gotten progressively worse as they keep the costs too low to be able to afford to upgrade.

— Bruce N, Auburn

I do have my fair share of frustration with CMP but any move from the state to buy out the grid would get obviously tied up in litigation that could take years. We don’t need an issue like that delaying the transition to renewable energy that is already underway.

— Thomas P, Auburn

The expertise the power companies have takes years to acquire and I wouldn’t want to stay in Maine if the government took control because it would be a nightmare. The government has no knowledge of all the things that happen in the background. There are so many people needed to run everything the right way and if the government takes control, Maine will likely have to start from scratch.

— Rilley D, Brewer

I feel very strongly that the government is unequipped to handle a project this large. Government run programs like the BMV and VA are often inefficient and it would be a real problem for utilities to face the same problems. We also don’t need our government growing any more bloated and ineffective.

— Kenneth H, Minot

When have we ever known the government to run something well that quickly? I’ve followed this issue from the beginning and I’m worried that letting a takeover occur would affect private industries — it’s just risky business. A better idea is to improve our regulations or give more power to the Public Utility Commission.

— Joshua G, Bangor

I’m a retired lineman and I do not think that this is a good idea. There are no obvious the benefits of having a state-owned electrical grid and the proponents don’t understand the amount of work that goes into maintaining the electrical grid. The government can barely keep the roads paved so how would they be able to handle the power grid?

— James M, Poland

I don’t see any upside to the government takeover and it seems absurd to try and buy out a company just because a few people do not like it.

— Eugene W, Poland

If the takeover goes through it could eliminate the PUC. Without the PUC, the only people we would have to address our concerns or problems would be the same people making the problems.

— Maureen O, Bucksport

I’m definitely concerned about a government takeover. As someone on a fixed income who struggles to make ends meet now, I just can’t see how the government owning electricity would make it any cheaper.

— Lana W, Oxford

If the takeover goes through, I’m worried about partisan politics affecting our electricity and how control could swing back and forth every few years. The government would be untruthful with the people and won’t deliver on the promises they make.

— Brittany C, Orono

Our electricity used to be government-controlled and was privatized because it wasn’t working out. The state once purchased a YMCA in the area to renovate but didn’t do anything because it would cost too much. Now the building is just sitting there collecting dust. The government just lacks commitment, and we shouldn’t let them touch our power grid.

— Douglas M, Glenburn

I’m afraid that government spending could get out of control and that Mainers will be paying out of pocket for administrators instead of upgrading Maine’s aging electrical grid. We have some of the oldest equipment in the country and now that projects like the corridor were voted down, I don’t know how Maine will be able to get the new equipment it needs so we can start adding more wind and solar projects.

— Melissa O, Bowdoinham

I’m a farmer so I typically spend more money than most for fuel for my equipment and need a lot of electricity for my equipment. I’m really concerned with the potential price of seizing our grid and do not think the state should spend that much. That price could easily cause prices to go up which would really hurt my business.

— Walter W, Bowdoin