A Central Maine Power smart meter. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

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Maulian Dana is the tribal ambassador for the Penobscot Nation and a member of the Our Power coalition and the Maine Climate Council. Ania Wright is a youth representative to the Maine Climate Council and climate action organizer with the Maine Sierra Club.

A bill that may be reconsidered by the Maine Legislature, which would let voters decide on the proposed Pine Tree Power Company, would give the state an opportunity to reach its goals set by its climate action plan, honor the traditions of Maine’s native peoples and leave a lasting and positive legacy for the young people of today.

We ask all Maine legislators to look deeply into their souls, reflect on the inheritance they will leave to future generations and support this bill.

If the Pine Tree Power Company bill passes in the Legislature, Maine voters can vote to create a customer-driven, non-profit electric utility that would be managed for Mainers, by Mainers. The company would control Maine’s power delivery systems, taking the place of Central Maine Power and Versant. Although these utilities were once Maine companies, they are now both foreign government-owned, profit-driven electric utilities, and are designed to serve their investors. Those investors are now enjoying guaranteed profits and control over most of Maine’s power grid at the expense of Maine people and our environment. This needs to change.

How would Pine Tree Power Company make a difference? For decades, CMP and the precursors to Versant have consistently worked to  block the clean renewable energy and energy efficiency measures Maine needs to move forward to do our part to protect the climate.

As we look to increase use of electric power to address climate change, we need to consider the sources, economic ramifications, customer service needs and the need to create and employ green energy, regardless of profits that flow to foreign investors.

The Pine Tree Power Company could help us address the climate crisis with lower costs, higher reliability and broadband access. Maine’s nine consumer-owned utilities and hundreds of others nationwide show that this model can work, and works well.

Climate change is the most pressing environmental issue that we face, as we cope with rising sea levels, insect borne diseases such as Lyme disease, new pests infesting crops, increasingly severe storms, droughts, floods and more.

We are at a critical juncture. Honoring the historic stewardship practices of the Penobscot people and protecting our resources so future generations may thrive has never been more imperative. Yet the model of electricity distribution managed by distant boardrooms for the benefit of shareholders works at cross purposes to our needs.

These profit-driven electric utilities are failing Maine now and will likely become an even bigger problem in the future. In the face of the climate crisis, society needs to increasingly rely on clean electricity to take the place of fossil fuels and power, heat and light our homes, businesses, factories and vehicles. CMP and Versant have inhibited renewable energy expansion.

In addition, Maine’s profit-driven utilities — CMP and Versant — have failed us, leaving Maine with the worst and longest outages in the nation, the  worst customer  service in the nation and the 10th highest rates in the nation. The companies send hundreds of millions of hard-earned Maine dollars to their shareholders instead of investing them to serve Maine people and our environment.

This bill would help Maine move towards greener energy, create a more favorable climate for local jobs, keep revenue in Maine and foster actions to protect our environment.

The Penobscot people have been stewards of Maine for over 10,000 years. We need to consider the youth of today who depend on us for their tomorrows. For the good of Maine, to honor our native heritage and to leave a forward looking legacy for the young people of today and tomorrow, it is time for Maine to take charge of our electric grid and control our energy future. Let’s put Mainers first.