Governor Mills Vetoes Consumer Owned Utility Company
Gov. Janet Mills has vetoed a bill that would have created a consumer-owned utility company.
LD 1708 intended to create a utility company that would be under consumer control, rather than relying on Central Maine Power and Versant, which are owned by out-of-state parent companies. Even as she vetoed the bill, Mills called the recent performance of Maine's utilities "abysmal" and admitted the time may have come for residents to retake control of the state's electrical supply.
Her concern with LD 1708 was that she felt the planning of it was rushed and could cause more problems than it would solve. Mills said passage of the bill, and creation of the utility, would affect every single Mainer, so the legislation needs to be crafted carefully.
There may be a way to create a utility with a professional governing body that is clearly eligible to issue low-interest, tax-exempt bonds that would save ratepayers money, achieve better connectivity with solar and other renewables, and further the climate goals of this Administration. But L.D. 1708, hastily drafted and hastily amended in recent weeks without robust public participation, is a patchwork of political promises rather than a methodical reformation of Maine's complicated electrical transmission and distribution system.
Several Maine businesses had expressed concerns about the bill, including Bath Iron Works. Thomas Welch, former chair of the Maine Public Utilities Commission also criticized the measure.
I applaud Governor Mills for showing the courage to veto this ill-conceived legislation which, if it became law, would set back Maine's work on climate change, trigger many years of costly litigation, and almost certainly result in higher costs to Maine's electricity customers.
Mills encouraged the planners to continue refining their original model.