(The Center Square) – A proposal to switch Maine’s primary power source from an investor-owned company to a consumer-owned entity is scheduled for discussion and a possible vote by state legislators Friday.
The legislation would create the Maine Power Delivery Authority, to be run by a private contractor and overseen by directors that could be appointed by the governor or approved by voters, the Portland Press Herald reported.
The legislation summary states, “This bill 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 Company and Emera Maine.”
CMP and Emera presently provide about 95 percent of the state’s power supply, according to data from the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC).
The bill is tentatively set to be voted on Friday by the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. If passed, it’s unclear when the measure would go before the full Legislature, which has scaled back meeting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill’s supporters say there would be upfront costs but also savings of roughly $9 billion for Maine in the first 30 years.
In a statement published in the Herald, CMP Executive Chairman David Flanagan described the cost savings analysis as unrealistic.
“One study by one person hardly makes the case that Maine people should be forced to take on billions of dollars of risk with no clear path to savings or improved utility performance, particularly when there are so many unknowns and potential pitfalls, and as many Mainers face an uncertain economic future,” Flanagan said.
Maine Public Radio reported last year that in 2017, Maine logged the longest and most frequent power outages of any state in the nation.
Now a subsidiary of Avangrid, CMP got its start in the Maine town of Oakland in 1899.
The bill’s supporters expect it will pass out of committee for consideration by the full Legislature.
The MPUC data shows Maine currently has several small consumer-owned utilities, including Houlton, Kennebunk Light & Power, and Madison Electric Works.