Maine Public Advocate Barry Hobbins looks over documents in his office in this 2018 file photo. Credit: Lori Valigra / BDN

Barry Hobbins, who has since 2017 fought for utility ratepayers, is stepping down as Maine’s public advocate.

Hobbins, 70, made the announcement on Thursday, saying he has given the job “absolutely everything” he has.

“I believe the Office of the Public Advocate has made great strides recently and has done fantastic work. Now I’d like to give the Governor the chance to infuse the office with new energy and dedication, and to build on very solid progress,” Hobbins said.

Hobbins, a lifetime Democrat who served 13 terms in the Legislature since 1972, was nominated to serve as public advocate in 2017 by then-Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican. Hobbins breezed through the nomination process, and the Maine Senate unanimously confirmed him to that office.

Hobbins replaced Tim Schneider, whom LePage appointed to the position in 2013 and later called it the “worst decisions in my life” after a fight over the state’s solar power policies.

During his time as public advocate, Hobbins vocal critic of Central Maine Power after a series of scandals involving the utility’s billing practices, disconnection notices and customer service. He also threw his support behind Maine’s pioneering a la carte cable law, which a federal court struck down earlier this year.

Alan Casavant, the mayor of Biddeford who previously served alongside Hobbins in the Legislature, praised Hobbins for his dedication to standing up for Maine utility customers, saying his “indignation at the injustice was palpable.”

“That’s what Barry has always been about. He was never a bureaucrat. For his entire career, extending all the way back to earliest days as a legislator, Barry Hobbins has always been an advocate,” Casavant said.

Mark Johnston, a Saco business owner who served seven terms as the mayor of Saco, where Hobbins lives, said Hobbins was dedicated to public service and that much of what he did escaped public notice.

“He’s always had the same humanistic, empathetic approach, and he’s had it for almost fifty years,” Johnston said.