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Change of ownership needed to improve Maine’s power system

Sam May is a former Wall Street analyst with significant experience in both Silicon Valley and Hong Kong; he lives in Portland and is co-founder of Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union.

It should come as no surprise that Joshua Broder penned a May 25 column in the BDN in opposition to LD 1708, An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company. Broder is a newly minted board member of Versant Power and CEO of Tilson — a company that received millions of dollars in revenues starting in 2012 as a prime contractor to CMP for the roll out of its “smart” meter program. Tilson’s business benefited from a ratepayer-funded technology rollout assisted by Obama era tax dollars. Broder urges us not to rock the boat and suggests Maine citizens could face litigation should we exercise our judgment and rights.

LD 1708, recently endorsed by the Energy, Utilities, and Technology committee, asks the Maine Legislature and governor to put the following question to the Maine people in a referendum this November:

“Do you favor the creation of the Pine Tree Power Company, a nonprofit, privately operated utility governed by a board elected by Maine voters, to replace Central Maine Power and Versant Power, without using tax dollars or state bonds, and to focus on delivering reliable, affordable electricity and meeting the state’s energy independence and Internet connectivity goals?”

Pretty straightforward — a non-profit, owned by ratepayers, managed by a seasoned operator, that uses no state of Maine bonds, emphasizes customer service, keeps rates under control, fosters energy independence, and retains profits in Maine.

Notice there is no mention of a government takeover. Ownership of Pine Tree Power is by Maine ratepayers for the benefit of Maine ratepayers. The board of directors is elected by voters. Current employees keep their jobs with a two-year retention bonus.

The monopoly now known as Versant, where Broder sits on the board, is in fact government owned. Versant is 100 percent owned by ENMAX and ENMAX is 100 percent owned by the City of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In 2021, ENMAX paid its owner, the City of Calgary, a dividend of $58 million in Canadian dollars. The funds are used, in part, to pay for recreation facilities, so it is likely that ratepayers in Maine are paying for the construction of hockey rinks in Calgary!

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