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Time for consumer-owned utility
I’ve been a building contractor in Waldo County for 33 years, so I am familiar with the world of small business and free markets. CMP and Versant Power are neither. They are monopolies that were given the privilege to operate with guaranteed profit margins. They are largely owned by foreign investors and send their profits to them too.
Imagine if I had exclusive rights to all construction work in the majority of Maine. Now imagine I was also guaranteed a profit margin no matter how poorly I built my buildings or how accurately I billed my customers, and that I was dedicated to serving foreign investors instead of my Maine customers. No one would think this was fair or a good idea or free market capitalism. This is how these investor-owned utilities operate.
In exchange for their sweet deal, the utilities are supposed to be regulated, but they use their massive profits to block or push legislation and regulations that make them more money.
That’s why 20 utility lobbyists are swarming the State House right now, why lavish donations are made to politicians, and why former governors, politicians, and regulators are hired in well-paid positions.
A consumer-owned utility would end this failed experiment and enable a “ratepayer takeover” to restore local control, transparency, reliability, accountability and lower costs for Maine.
Collins should call out colleagues
On June 1, 1950, one of Maine’s greatest U.S. senators, Margaret Chase Smith of Skowhegan, called out the corrosive threat to American democracy posed by a fellow Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. Delivering her “Declaration of Conscience” speech on the floor of the Senate, she denounced “the reckless abandon in which unproved charges have been hurled from this side of the aisle.” She added, “I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the four horsemen of calumny — fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear.”
Today, our nation faces a similar threat. Several prominent GOP members of that same body, unashamedly promoting falsehoods that pose an even greater threat to our democracy, aren’t challenged enough for their perfidy by our current Republican U.S. senator, Susan Collins of Bangor.
One simply has to wonder when, if ever, Collins will finally summon the integrity, the will, the courage, and the love of country to at long last call to account her colleagues who, like McCarthy some seventy years ago, put our nation at risk. As her party prepares to compete in the 2024 midterm elections on “The Big Lie,” time is running out.
Reasons to support corridor
One of the things that we saw with the Texas blackouts earlier this year was how important it is to have many sources of energy. Anything can happen. Unfortunately, some of the same problems that afflicted Texas are a problem for Maine. Some of the leading producers of electricity here are Texas- and Florida-owned, fossil fuel burning plants. This is where the New England Clean Energy Connect comes in.
Hydro-Quebec has proposed building transmission lines to get a lot of its clean hydroelectricity into Maine and beyond. There has been some misinformation with critics charging that this is all about delivering power to Massachusetts. That is simply not true. An awful lot of clean, cheap power would flow to Maine households, lowering rates in the process.
Do people know that two-thirds of the lines for the corridor in northern Maine would be built along existing power line corridors? Do people know that the remaining third would cut heavily commercially forested areas?
Rather than hurt the region’s environment, NECEC would help to save it by making available enough clean energy so that it will be like a whopping 700,000 fewer cars are on the road. Those are some really good reasons why we should get behind this project.