Consumer-Owned Utility Referendum Certified For Ballot

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The secretary of state's office has certified an adequate number of voter signatures for a referendum on a proposal to replace Maine’s privately owned electric utilities with a consumer-owned Pine Tree Power Company.

The state certified 69,735 valid signatures, surpassing the threshold by more than 6,000, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said Wednesday. That means that the proposal will go to the Maine Legislature for considering. If it isn't passed by lawmakers, then it would go to state voters in November.

Andrew Blunt, executive director of Our Power, said it's time to make a change to save money for ratepayers.

“With rates through the roof and a hard winter ahead, Mainers are more ready than ever for a local power company that lowers our bills instead of making wealthy corporations richer,” he said in a statement.

Critics contend buying out Central Maine Power and Versant Power, the state's two largest electric utilities, would be costly and negate any savings.

The Maine Legislature approved the proposal to oust Central Maine Power and Versant Power last year. But Democratic Gov. Janet Mills vetoed the bill, saying the proposal was “deeply flawed.”