Local legislators back bill for public power authority

By Stephen Betts | May 21, 2019
Source: File photo

Augusta — Many local legislators are supporting a bill that would have the state take control of the electricity system.

LD 1646 creates the Maine Power Delivery Authority as a consumer-owned utility to acquire and operate all transmission and distribution systems in the state currently operated by the investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities known as Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine.

The Legislature's Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee is reviewing the bill.

Local legislators expressed their support for the measure.

"After witnessing the behavior of Central Maine Power the last two years, I will definitely be supporting this idea," Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, an independent from Friendship, said. "We did similar initiatives with great success in the 1930s, both with the Rural Electrification Administration and bringing power to the Appalachians via the TVA. CMP's track record of misleading the public and blatantly overcharging people because of their failed 'Smart' metering scheme, along with their power line boondoggle proposal, all underscore the fact that Maine needs a power company operating for Maine people."

Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, said she supports the bill.

Rep. William Pluecker, independent of Warren, said, "It is time that we take the 'power' back into our own hands. Consumer confidence in CMP is at an all-time low. We don't trust their " corridor. We don't trust that they are planning for power outages. We don't trust their billing. We need to take a hard look at the financing and make sure that as consumers we can make money on the deal, but on the surface it looks like a great plan.

Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, said it is time "we take control of our energy destiny in our state. We need to get off fossil fuels and seize opportunities to electrify our transportation and heating sectors, and to do this we need a strong grid, one which we can depend on. This idea of a consumer-owned utility is not new in Maine -- we already have several serving many parts of our state, and their customers experience better reliability and lower rates compared to those of us served by investor-owned companies, whose fiduciary duties are to out-of-state investors," Doudera said.

State Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, said the customer-owned utility model is a great way to manage and oversee the cost of electricity. "In the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, we hear almost daily about the poor management and lack of accountability at CMP and its parent company, Avangrid. CMP still has not fixed its billing problems. Its flawed 'Smart meters' cheat customers and yet have not been fixed. CMP does not have adequate staffing to deal with large-scale outages. And electricity remains among the most expensive and least reliable in the country," Miramant said.

"For-profit companies use our utility laws to benefit their shareholders, not their customers. A COU would pay good salaries and keep money here in Maine. It would focus on reliability and affordability, not maximum profit. It won’t pay massive annual CEO salaries like CMP ($2.5 million) and Emera ($5 million), but instead would attract good management committed to good service for fair pay.

"Unlike for-profit companies, COUs receive federal funds after large-scale emergencies. Currently, Maine ratepayers foot the bill for all the extra costs of large-scale outages, many of which stem from bad management decisions. In addition, COUs are exempt from federal tax as long as they maintain 85 percent customer ownership. We already have several COUs in the state saving customers 15 to 25 percent, depending on the utility.

I strongly support this effort and will do everything possible to make it happen," Miramant concluded.

State Sen. Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, did not respond to an email sent Monday, May 20.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Wyatt Anderson | May 22, 2019 21:10

Yes, the government really does a better job than the private sector, look at the nice roads and bridges we all have. No rust, no pot holes, low taxes, hard to beat really. Oh yeah, and the schools are teaching liberal beliefs and in deficit budgets, lets take on the power supply and make that better! Viva Venezuela!!! Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos could be president down there if he was in the running.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | May 21, 2019 13:13

 

Hopefully this will prove to be better protection against blackouts by the system.



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