Maine’s electrical utilities will not be seized by the state and placed under the control of a quasi-governmental body following the overwhelming rejection of Question 3 by Maine voters on Tuesday.
Question 3 asked Mainers “Do you want to create a new power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine”
The new, state-owned company was to be called Pine Tree Power.
Question 3 would have dissolved Maine’s two leading, privately owned power companies, Central Maine Power (CMP), and Versant, and replaced them with the state-run Pine Tree Power by January 2025.
The majority of voters opposed the question, with 69.32 percent voting against the measure.
Although Pine Tree Power claimed on its FAQ page that Pine Tree Power would reduced electricity rates in Maine, voters remained unconvinced.
Pine Tree Power’s claims directly contradicted the findings of a study paid for by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
PUC found that the proposal “was likely to raise rates in the short-term due to the cost of financing the acquisition.”
“The proposal could increase taxes and/or result in a reduction in government services due to lower state tax revenues collected from CMP and Versant,” the PUC said.
According to a study by the Concentric Energy Advisors, the aquisition of CMP and Versant, required were Question 3 to have passed, could have cost the state up to $13.5 Billion. The lower estimate of the study was a still significant $8.2 billion price-tag.
Question 1, proposed alongside question three, was meant as an additional safeguard against the state government’s dissolution of the privately owned utility companies.
The question asked “Do you want to bar some quasi-governmental entities and all consumer-owned electric utilities from taking on more than $1 billion in debt unless they get statewide voter approval?“
This measure would have required that, even had Question 3 passed, another vote would have needed to take place to approve the billions in debt which the state would have accrued in the establishment of Pine Tree Power.
Question 1 also passed with an overwhelming majority, with 65 percent of voters saying yes to requiring further approval before massive amounts of are taken on by public entities.