Talk on consumer-owned public utility proposal Sept. 19

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 8:15am

Details of a proposal to create a new consumer-owned utility to replace Central Maine Power Company (CMP) and Emera Maine will be presented during the Thursday, Sept. 19 meeting of the Lincoln County Democratic Committee (LCDC) at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Fire Station, 86 River Rd., Newcastle.

State Representative Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) will discuss his proposal to establish the Maine Power Authority, which would operate like other existing Maine consumer-owned utilities such as Kennebunk Light and Power, Madison Electric Works, or Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative.

Consumer-owned power exists in 49 of the 50 states, serving 15 percent of U.S. residents, and is common in much of the developed world.

The new company would be solely responsible to Maine ratepayers instead of to faraway investors. CMP, Maine’s largest electricity delivery operation, is owned by a large multinational corporation based in Spain.

Berry shared, "At present, Maine has the worst reliability and some of the highest electrical delivery costs in the nation. CMP has for decades opposed measures to encourage rooftop solar and greater efficiency. More recently, the company has focused on developing a controversial transmission corridor through the western mountains. And in late 2018, CMP was also found by auditors to have sent over 97,000 erroneous bills over a four month period, and to have failed to address a known flaw in its new “smart” meters for over four years. We can do better."

The State Legislature is likely to vote on Berry’s proposal in March of 2020. In the meantime, a study is being conducted to analyze potential savings to customers, logistics of transitioning equipment and personnel, reduction of greenhouse gases, and overall responsiveness.

Berry is the House Chair of the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, where he works to improve Mainers’ access to affordable clean energy and high-speed internet. Berry is entering his twelfth year in the Maine Legislature. He previously served as House Majority Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, House Chair of the Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, and as ranking Democrat on the Taxation Committee.

Berry is also Vice President of Kennebec River Biosciences, a Maine-owned, commercial lab working to improve the health and sustainability of aquatic farms and fisheries worldwide. Prior to his legislative service and career in business, Berry worked for 19 years in public education, and also served as a selectboard member in Bowdoinham for five years. He holds a BA from Brown University and an MA from Columbia University. 

The LCDC welcomes all Democrats and progressive independent/unenrolled voters to attend monthly meetings and events. Registered Democrats in Lincoln County are also invited to join the LCDC as voting members to help in their work.

Information about the committee, its meetings and other activities may be found at or Chris Johnson, LCDC Chair, may also be contacted directly at 207-632-6066 or