AUGUSTA — High school and college students met outside the statehouse to show their support for a bill that would create a publicly owned utility company.
Rep. Seth Berry, a Democrat from Bowdoinham, is sponsoring the bill that aims to replace Maine’s electric power companies with the Pine Tree Power Company, a consumer-owned electric utility.
Earlier this month, the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology voted 9-2 in favor of the bill.
Cole Cochrane, a sophomore at Thorton Academy, said the state is facing major environmental problems.
“So what’s standing in our way? It is CMP and Versant,” said Cochrane. “Both these companies make up the private utility monopoly in our state representing their shareholders. And I hate to break it to you folks but they do not represent Maine’s interest.”
The co-sponsor of the bill said investor-owned utilities are no longer meeting the needs of Mainers.
Rep. Nathan Carlow, a Republican from Buxton said this is a bipartisan issue.
“Non-partisan studies conclude that consumer-owned utilities are less costly and more reliable and provide a higher quality of service to its customers,” said Carlow.
Louise Chaplain, a member of the Maine youth for climate justice, said the Pine Tree Power Company will be structured much differently than CMP and Versant.
“These people aren’t going to be there for the paycheck that the foreign investors are they are going to be citizens that care about Maine as you and I do.,”
Some said the current electrical grid is not up to date.
“It’s not their priority. It’s not in their nature as an investor-owned utility whose goal is to make a profit for their shareholders,” said Bar Harbor resident Ania Wright.