DAMARISCOTTA — Details of a proposal to create a nonprofit consumer-owned utility called the Pine Tree Power Company will be presented during the Thursday, Nov. 18 online meeting of the Lincoln County Democratic Committee at 6:30 p.m. Please note that this is an information session and not a forum for debate.

All Lincoln County Democrats and unenrolled progressives are welcome to attend LCDC meetings. Pre-registration is required for non-voting members to receive log on and phone in details. Register at https://lincolncountydemocrats.com/meet before Noon the day of the meeting to ensure access. They will also do their best to accommodate last-minute registrations. 

Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham) will provide an update on a citizen initiative asking voters to replace Maine’s two investor-owned corporate utilities, Central Maine Power and Versant, with a new nonprofit consumer-owned utility called the Pine Tree Power Company. The citizen initiative is sponsored by Our Power (https://ourpowermaine.org/), a group of Maine ratepayers, business leaders, energy experts, conservationists, and others committed to putting the Pine Tree State’s energy future in the hands of Mainers.

Berry’s LD 1708, An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company, (https://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280080894) passed the Maine Legislature with bipartisan support in June, but was vetoed by Gov. Janet Mills in July, citing conceptual support but specific concerns, urging lawmakers to revise the proposal and seek public participation. This initiative has refined the language and now plans to take it to the voters.

“This is not just about local control, lower rates and better reliability,” said Berry. “Above all, the Pine Tree Power Company will establish Maine as the nation’s leader in our fight to avert climate catastrophe.”

Nationally renowned climate leader Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, has also endorsed the Our Power movement. “In our efforts to save our climate,” wrote McKibben, “the hour is late and the need is urgent. Maine’s proposal for a consumer-owned utility offers a model for transforming a nation and a world seeking solutions to the crisis of our era.”

Berry has served for 13 years in the Maine Legislature. He has served for seven nonconsecutive years on the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology and for five years as the House Chair of that committee. He previously served as House Majority Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, House Chair of the Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, and as ranking Democrat on the Taxation Committee.

For his policy work, Berry has received several awards including the Sierra Club Legislative Leadership Award, the Northeast Clean Energy Council’s Maine Clean Energy Champion Award, the President’s Award from the Maine Development Foundation for bipartisan leadership on jobs and workforce measures, the Clean Air Award from the American Lung Association of Maine, and others. He is also a Margaret Chase Smith Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow and has served on a number of committees for the National Council of State Legislatures.

Berry is also vice president of Kennebec River Biosciences, a Maine-owned, commercial laboratory working to improve the health and sustainability of aquatic farms and fisheries worldwide. Prior to his legislative service and career in business, Berry worked for 19 years in public and private education, and also served as a selectboard member in Bowdoinham for five years. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s from Columbia University. 

Voting members of the LCDC will automatically receive the log on information by email. Those interested in becoming a voting member must be a registered Democrat in Lincoln County and may make their interest known by indicating such on the meeting registration form, https://lincolncountydemocrats.com/meet, or by emailing info@lincolncountydemocrats.com.

The final meeting of 2021 will be a short business meeting on Dec. 16. Previously the organization had announced that there would be no meeting in December.

Information about the committee, its meetings and other activities may be found at https://lincolncountydemocrats.com or https://www.facebook.com/lincolncountydems/. Chris Johnson, LCDC chair, may also be contacted directly at chair@lincolncountydemocrats.com.

The Lincoln County Democratic Committee promotes the ideals, principles, and philosophy we share as Democrats. The nomination and election of candidates who advocate these ideals and principles ensure an effective, democratic government of and for all the people.