Maine voters reject power utility takeover, by a wide margin

FILE - Heavy machinery is used to cut trees to widen an existing Central Maine Power power line corridor to make way for new utility poles, April 26, 2021, near Bingham, Maine. Construction is resuming on an electricity transmission project that will serve as a conduit for Canadian hydropower to reach the New England power grid despite a half-billion dollar cost increase, with work starting in a week, the head of Avangrid said Thursday, July 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

FILE - Heavy machinery is used to cut trees to widen an existing Central Maine Power power line corridor to make way for new utility poles, April 26, 2021, near Bingham, Maine. Construction is resuming on an electricity transmission project that will serve as a conduit for Canadian hydropower to reach the New England power grid despite a half-billion dollar cost increase, with work starting in a week, the head of Avangrid said Thursday, July 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) Robert F. Bukaty

Monitor staff

Published: 11-08-2023 11:46 AM

Modified: 11-08-2023 4:35 PM


Maine voters soundly rejected Tuesday a proposal to create a non-profit that would take over the state’s private electric utilities.

The referendum, Question 3 on the ballot, was defeated by a 2-1 margin. Only the Portland area supported it, but just barely.

The proposal, submitted by a public referendum, would have created a non-profit based in Maine to buy out the state’s two public utilities: Central Maine Power, owned by Spain’s Iberdrola, and Versant, owned by Enmax of Canada. The new entity, Pine Tree Power, would have been run by a 13-person board, seven of them elected and six appointed.

The big stumbling block was the price to buy the utilities, which would have been somewhere between $6 billion and $13 billion, depending on whose estimates you believed.

A second referendum that would make such a switch harder won easily. Question 1 would require separate voter approval for debt over $1 billion. It was initiated by CMP’s owner as a backstop in case Question 3 succeeded.

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