Winter Park chooses to focus on reliability

Winter Park, Florida, formed a public power utility in 2005 after a six-year struggle to take over the electric distribution system. Winter Park’s effort was sparked by persistent problems with Florida Power Corp. City leaders were barraged with complaints about outages. The private utility’s franchise was nearing expiration. The franchise agreement included a clause allowing the city to buy the distribution system at the end of that period. In 2003, residents turned out in droves and voted overwhelmingly–by 69 percent–in favor of the city’s plan to form a municipal electric utility.

The utility began operations in 2005. The city contracted with ENCO Utility Services Inc. of California to operate the utility under a 12-year contract and committed to use all of the revenues from its electricity sales–except for a contribution it has agreed to make to the city’s general fund–for capital improvements. The city committed to undertake a strong program to improve the reliability of electric service, in part by putting a significant portion of the power lines underground.

Kennebunk Power and Light: Solar power is cheaper

Kennebunk Light and Power District is a nonprofit consumer-owned utility. “We have no dividends to pay to shareholders, stockholders,” General Manager Todd Shea said. “Our customers literally own the company that we operate.”

The Kennebunk Light & Power District, is led by a five person Board of Trustees elected by the residents of the Town of Kennebunk. The Trustees are authorized among other things to hire a General Manager to run the operations of the District. As a consumer-owned not for profit electric distribution company the District is accountable only to the residents and the customers it serves.

The company can purchase power at a wholesale price, which is passed directly on to customers. In 2017, the utility signed a 20-year solar power purchase agreement. The company discovered that “Pricing for the solar power is actually lower than the cost to purchase energy off the grid under Kennebunk Light and Power District’s current energy contract.”

In the town of Kennebunk, a bill for 318 kWh of usage would cost you about $49, according to Shea. Just over the border in Kennebunkport, CMP customers pay almost $57 for the same amount of power.

Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative: Reliable service for 77 rural Maine towns

Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative (EMEC) covers an area twice as large as Rhode Island. EMEC is a not-for-profit company incorporated in Maine in 1940. Because it is owned by its customer-members rather than foreign stockholders, the employees and member-elected board of directors have an undivided loyalty to those who live and work in Eastern Maine.

Despite the rural nature of the area, EMEC’s reliability is well- known. Customers and managers routinely report only a few hours per year without power, with numerous stories of neighbors from CMP or Versant territories visiting to charge cell phones.

EMEC is also a part of a nationwide network of electric cooperatives that share resources, giving this small company access to expertise, technology and economies of scale greater than companies fifty times its size.

Eastern Maine Electric Co-op: Proudly serving 3,000 square miles of Aroostook, Penobscot, and Washington Counties.

EMEC serves the most rural territory of any utility in Maine,
consisting of approximately 3,000 square miles (77 towns) in:

  • Eastern Washington County
  • Southern Aroostook County
  • Western Penobscot County

Madison Electric Works: Serving large businesses and four Maine towns

Madison Electric Works is a publicly-owned utility, serving electric customers in Madison, Starks, Anson and Norridgewock, Maine. Major business customers include Backyard Farms and manufacturing at the former Madison Paper site. Incorporated in 1888, MEW’s coverage area was established to enhance the manufacturing boom at the turn of the century near the river.

As the company home page says, “Delivering clean energy is our business. Madison Electric Works has a solid foundation to pursue sustainable growth and competitive markets, providing customers with low rates and peace of mind.”

The utility has invested in battery storage to shave peak load and keep the energy costs down, and signed a 25-year contract to purchase solar power.

List of Consumer-Owned Utilities in Maine