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Proposal For Maine Utility Takeover Hits Snag As Two Supporters Flip

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

A bid to establish a consumer-owned utility hit a snag late Thursday after the Maine Senate failed to enact it.

The proposal to seize the assets of Central Maine Power and Versant Power and replace the investor-owned utilities with a consumer-owned company governed by an elected board failed after two supporters of the bill flipped their votes.

Republican Sen. David Woodsome, of Waterboro, is a co-sponsor of the bill, while Auburn Democrat Ned Claxton was an early supporter.

Their decision to oppose the bill left it one vote shy of enactment.

The outcome of the vote prompted lawmakers to hold the bill until the Legislature returns later this month.

Enacting the bill is still possible, but Gov. Janet Mills has sent strong indications that she may veto it.

The governor has expressed numerous concerns about the proposal, including its governance structure and the wording on a ballot initiative approving the consumer-owned utility that would go to voters as early as November.