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Judge orders rewording of referendum question on electric utility

In this Tuesday, May 28, 2019 photo, power lines converge on a Central Maine Power substation in Pownal, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
In this Tuesday, May 28, 2019 photo, power lines converge on a Central Maine Power substation in Pownal, Maine.

Proponents of a referendum question to replace CMP and Versant with a nonprofit power company won a court victory over the wording of the question on Thursday

In drafting the referendum, Maine's Secretary of State described the proposed power company as “quasi-governmental." But several supporters challenged that description. They argued the term "quasi-governmental" is unclear and misleading. The court agreed, and remanded the case to the Secretary of State to revise the wording.

Sen. Rick Bennett, a Republican from Oxford, co-sponsored the legislation, which was vetoed by Gov. Janet Mills. He said he's pleased with the court's decision.

"I would like to see the word 'quasi-governmental' removed, because it doesn't at all describe the entity that would be created. I think 'consumer-owned' would be much more appropriate," Bennett said.

The court did not rule on whether "consumer-owned" is the appropriate phrase, but Bennett said he hopes that phrase will be included on the ballot question.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.