Chamber joins coalition of leading labor unions, sportsmen, and small business owners to fight proposed takeover of Maine’s electric grid
AUGUSTA, Maine (Tuesday, September 20, 2022) - Maine’s largest business association, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, announced today that it is joining the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition to oppose a takeover of the state’s investor-owned electric utilities and creation of a government-run power authority.
“This proposal to take over CMP and Versant would cost us billions of dollars in debt - debt that all of us would have to pay off for years through higher electric bills. This proposal is bad for businesses, bad for workers, and bad for anyone who has to pay an electric bill. It’s simply too expensive for Maine,” said Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber.
Supporters of a proposal to create a quasi-governmental electric utility called “Pine Tree Power” have been circulating petitions to force a vote on their plan to seize Versant and Central Maine Power (CMP). The government-run power authority would be governed by elected officials and would have to borrow an estimated $13.5 billion to pay for the assets of Versant Power and CMP. Proponents want the issue to be on the ballot in November of 2023.
In addition to the cost, the Maine State Chamber said the proposed takeover of Versant Power and CMP would create uncertainty for Maine businesses.
“Nearly two-thirds of the electricity in Maine is used by commercial customers and it’s critical for them to be able to rely on a stable, well-run grid,” Connors said. “A government takeover of Maine’s private electric utilities would lead to a decade or more of legal uncertainty which could discourage investment in Maine’s electric infrastructure. And if a takeover eventually does take place, we would then be faced with an electric utility run by elected politicians, running the risk of politics interfering with good policy and creating a challenging environment for consumers and business.”
The Maine State Chamber, which represents a network of more than 5,000 employers of all sizes across the state, joins some of the largest labor organizations in Maine in opposing the takeover, including the AFL-CIO of Maine and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and dozens of small businesses also have joined the coalition of thousands of individuals and numerous associations and companies coming out against the takeover proposal.
About the Maine State Chamber of Commerce:
Founded in 1889, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce is Maine’s largest business association, serving as The Voice of Maine Business on behalf of thousands of employers of all sizes and sectors across the state. The Maine State Chamber focuses on three pillars - Advocacy, Access, and Awareness - to advance a positive business climate and secure a strong state economy in which Maine businesses can compete and succeed. For more information, please visit www.mainechamber.org.