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Southern Maine Group Seeks To Launch Petition Drive Aimed At Creating A Consumer-Owned Utility

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

A group of southern Maine lawyers, business people and environmental advocates, including former lawmakers John Brautigam and Dick Woodbury, submitted a request for a Citizen's Petition with the secretary of state earlier this month aimed at creating a consumer-owned utility.If enough signatures were collected, voters would be asked whether they want to create a non-profit, consumer-owned utility to buy out and replace the state's two major transmission companies, Central Maine Power and Versant.

The Legislature last session considered a similar measure, but only authorized a study of the issue.

In an email statement Brautigam says the move would more quickly help reduce pollution from Maine's power usage "and will cost billions less if it is built by a consumer-owned utility rather than a utility controlled by a distant boardroom obligated to foreign investors."

In an email to CMP staff, CEO David Flanagan vows to fight the proposal, calling it a "threat to Maine's economic and environmental future" that could cost consumers billions of dollars.

CMP is owned by Avangrid Networks, whose majority shareholder is Spain-based energy giant Iberdrola. The former Bangor Hydro transmission network was recently bought by a Canadian entity, and the new company is called Versant.

Originally published at 12:49 p.m. Sept. 28, 2020.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.