A Versant Power lineman works to cut power to a live wire across Kidder Hill Road in Holden that was brought down by a tree in a storm on Jan. 17, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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John Flynn is president of Versant Power.

Mainers rightly expect and deserve responsible electric utilities that are focused on providing reliable, affordable service while facilitating our state’s efforts to accomplish our ambitious energy goals. Every day, you place your trust in us, and we take that responsibility seriously.

For the last three years, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside the hardworking, dedicated people of Versant Power. I am tremendously proud of the work they have put in over the last few years to continuously improve our operations and meet the demands of a changing energy landscape.

Versant Power began providing service to our friends and neighbors in eastern and northern Maine in 2020. Since then, we have made smart investments in the grid, and in our people, that have made a difference for our customers. We’ve seen continued year-over-year improvements in reliability and service statistics and our system is holding up better during storms. We’re committed to continuing to build on these efforts.

Our state has set ambitious climate and energy goals, and Versant Power understands that we have a critical role to play in accomplishing them. Collectively, we must solve the challenges that come with transporting large amounts of renewable energy to customers so they can power rapidly increasing numbers of clean electric devices for heating and transportation. Fortunately, Maine has made significant progress toward that future, but continued success will require us to focus on cost-effective choices and policies that balance these goals with our customers’ needs.

Soaring electricity supply prices have frustrated customers over the past several years. We understand that frustration and the hardships faced by those who can’t afford dramatic increases in their electricity bills. However, Versant Power is not allowed to own power plants or any type of electricity generation, and we don’t benefit from these high prices. What we can do is help customers save money by using energy more wisely and by connecting them with assistance opportunities.

Versant Power has worked with developers to interconnect more than 75 megawatts of solar energy to the grid since 2020, enough to power more than 12,000 homes. We have also processed more than 1,200 applications to interconnect renewable energy generators in that same time period. Despite being a relatively small utility, we are currently working with the owners of almost 450 active projects to integrate an additional 500-plus megawatts of renewable energy in northern and eastern Maine. That’s more energy than our customers use, putting Maine on the leading edge of solving the technology challenges that result.

Versant Power is up to the task, but we also need to collaborate with policymakers, regulators and stakeholders on these issues, rather than devoting more time and energy tearing one another down as has happened too often recently. At a time when we should be planning for and building the grid of the future, we have been mired in divisive politics instead. Just imagine the things we can accomplish if we spend our time working together — including with our utilities — to move our state forward.

This week, voters got the opportunity to make an informed choice about the energy future they want for our state, and they decided that a forced takeover of our state’s electric utilities is not in Maine’s best interest. It’s time to move away from combative and divisive approaches and focus on working together constructively.

With the campaign now behind us, we are eager to build consensus and momentum for meeting Maine’s energy and climate goals and delivering the best possible service and value for our customers.