letter to the editor

Support Pine Tree Power for Maine’s economic future

Tue, 10/24/2023 - 7:00pm

I plan to vote yes on No. 3, the Pine Tree Power Project, and urge other voters to do the same. I have listened to the arguments on all sides and believe that this initiative is our best opportunity to reduce power bills, increase grid reliability and ensure a future proof grid. I encourage you to go to the website, PineTreePower.org, to read the detailed plan and analyses of the proposal. Daily glossy mailings from CMP aside, this is a well thought out plan with significant expert support.

While in theory I don’t oppose a Spanish multinational controlling our electric grid and economic future here in Maine (while still quaintly calling itself Central Maine Power), I do when the facts show that our electric rates are some of the highest in the country, we have more frequent outages than the rest of the country, and the company generates $187 million in profit in one year, all leaving the state and going to the shareholders of the multinational corporation.

Maine has the 4th highest electric costs in the country; it also has a difficult time attracting private industry with good paying jobs to the state. These are not unrelated.

Manufacturing businesses are extremely sensitive to the cost of electricity – it is their second highest cost (after payroll). For instance, every 1 cent increase in electric rates costs Bath Iron Works $1 million. Recently, Dragon Cement announced plans to shutdown, resulting in the loss of high paying jobs and the related economic contribution to the local community. It had become too expensive for them to continue their operations.

Since the 2008 purchase of CMP by the Spanish multinational, CMP’s electric rates have gone up twice as much as rates in other states. Despite profits of nearly $190 million in 2022, CMP and Versant asked for a 30% rate increase, on the backs of hard working Mainers and their local employers.

When electric costs are reasonable, Maine sees economic development. Two new economic development projects in Maine recently chose to locate in areas that are served by consumer owned utilities. Maine has 9 consumer owned utilities, which have rates that are on average 52% lower than CMP’s. This is not a new concept, and it is one that has demonstrated success in Maine and across the country for lowering electric rates and improving grid reliability. Put simply, do you want to continue paying very high rent for our electric grid or start building equity in our electric grid, making it work for all Mainers and our economic future? Vote yes on #3.

Denise Munger lives in Rockport