Maine utility critics plot public takeover of the state’s electric grid

Electricity ratepayers in Maine currently endure longer and more frequent service disruptions than those in any other state according to federal data. While Central Maine Power (CMP) and Emera, the state’s investor-owned utilities blame Maine’s rugged topography, many ratepayers believe that instead, these providers have underinvested in grid infrastructure that could improve reliability and better accommodate renewable energy alternatives.

A bipartisan bill has been proposed in Maine’s legislature to buy CMP and Emera’s transmission and distribution infrastructure and create a new publicly owned utility to manage and operate it. While this legislation would require major investments, many see it as a path to a more dependable grid that saves Mainer’s money and frustration while creating thousands of green jobs in the process. Additionally, converting Maine’s electrical distribution system to a consumer-owned utility would provide the state with more autonomy in quickly decarbonizing its electricity production and being able to more rapidly meet greenhouse gas emission goals.

This bill comes as Maine voters are gearing up to vote on the CMP Corridor issue next November. The Corridor also known as the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line would bring dirty Canadian hydropower from the border through Maine to Massachusetts. Maine would see very few to no benefits from this corridor that would cut through 145-miles of pristine woods, wetlands, streams, and ponds. Massachusetts would be importing this hydropower as a climate solution; however, it is anything but that. The power that would flow through this line is being produced at the expense of front-line communities, ecosystems, and the climate.