A proposal that would ask Maine voters to create a consumer-owned utility that would replace the state’s two major power companies advanced easily in the Legislature’s energy committee on Tuesday.
Lawmakers on the panel voted 9-2 in favor of an amended version of a bill that would create the nonprofit Pine Tree Power Co. through the referendum process. It would be governed by a board of directors voted on by Mainers and would require the company to buy out Central Maine Power and Versant Power, the state’s two largest electricity providers, through a bond.
The development advances the concept of a consumer-owned utility, a measure that has been years in the making. A previous attempt was negotiated into a study bill last year. It has bipartisan support in the Legislature, with Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, and Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, being the main cosponsors.
The bill will be subject to a fiscal estimate before it moves to a floor vote. If it is approved, voters will vote on the issue in November.