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.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.