The Maine State Nurses Association said Wednesday it is backing a referendum to create a consumer-owned utility, calling it a matter of public health. The referendum is Question 3 on the November ballot. Credit: CBS 15/WGME

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In the 1970s, I was for a time the director of the Maine Office of Energy Resources, a cabinet appointment under Gov. James B. Longley. Before that, I was the staff coordinator for the Governor’s Committee on the Future of the Electric Utility Industry. I had the opportunity to interact with some very intelligent and thoughtful utility executives, notably Skip Thurlow of Central Maine Power. I also had the opportunity to work side by side with Peter Bradford, head of the Maine Public Utilities Commission. I counted among my advisors Professor Richard Hill of the University of Maine.

During those years, I did not have major concerns about how the utilities (primarily CMP and Bangor Hydro) were conducting business. They were local companies, not owned by out-of-country entities, and they had a deep commitment to Maine. Sure, there were issues with consumer rates, the Wiscasset nuclear power plant, our nation’s reliance on foreign oil, and the need to incorporate and promote energy conservation and alternative energy sources. But Maine’s electric utilities were largely on board with trying to do the right thing for the state.

The situation is very different today. Maine’s electricity market is now just another profit opportunity for some foreign owners. This is not the way it should be. We have the brains, here in Maine, to manage our own essential services. We do not need to be sending profits abroad. We need to be investing them here at home. We need to be responsive to the people of Maine, and not intimidated by massive advertising campaigns in the service of out-of-state and foreign companies. Let’s go forward with the Pine Tree Power proposal and take it to the next level of analysis and planning, which will be required before any public purchases are finalized.

Let’s vote yes on Question 3.

Abbie McMillen