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Maine utilities continue to eclipse takeover group in campaign spending

The Maine Affordability Coalition website, behind a number of ads against Question 3. The group is funded entirely by Avangrid, CMP's parent company.
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The Maine Affordability Coalition website, behind a number of ads against Question 3. The group is funded entirely by Avangrid, CMP's parent company.

Maine's two largest electric utilities have spent nearly 44 times more money this year alone than the campaign hoping to convince voters to take over the companies' assets.

The campaign committees representing Central Maine Power and Versant Power have spent a combined $17.4 million this year and have been funded exclusively by their parent companies, Avangrid and ENMAX, respectively.

Both committees are sitting on $6 million in available cash, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

By contrast, Our Power, which aims to takeover the utilities and replace them with an nonprofit run by an elected board, has spent just shy of $400,000 and reported $56,000 in cash reserves.

The funding disparity has yielded a one-sided messaging campaign on television and online platforms. Our Power has no television ads and it's been eclipsed by the utilities on social media and online, too.

Most of the group's donations have come from individual donors contributing between $25 and $100.

While the latest reports cover spending and contributions this year, the campaign committees have been active since 2021. Since then the committees representing CMP and Versant have amassed more than $34 million to beat back the takeover bid and spent $29 million.

Our Power has come up just short of a $1 million in contributions over the same period and spent most of it.

In addition to television and online messaging, the utilities' campaign committees have also used an assortment of political consulting firms to supplement efforts to persuade voters to oppose Question 3 on the November ballot.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.