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BBRC No on 3 Official Position (800 Words)

October 26, 2023

BBRC Urges Business Leaders to Vote No on Question 3; Questions 1 & 2 Position Suggestions Included

The Executive Board of Directors of the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber, with the support of the Chamber’s Government Liaisons committee, is urging Maine Voters to reject Pine Tree Power by voting No on Question 3 on November 7. 

Our position is as follows:

The spirit of Pine Tree Power is admirable; they want to lower electricity bills for Mainers, create more clean energy investment, and improve reactivation times after service outages. Unfortunately, this proposal doesn’t guarantee any of those things and there are too many uncertainties for our organization to support it. 

The largest uncertainty is the cost of the project. We don’t even know when we’ll know the cost due to the legal challenges it faces if it passes. We can’t think of a scenario in which any Mainer would purchase something without knowing the price or even what year they would know the price. No one would buy a home, or a vehicle, or even a vacation today, knowing that they’d get the price tag 5-10 years down the road. Yet this proposal asks us to approve a project that will cost anywhere from $5B to as much as $13.5B. We’re asked to sign now, without a clear cost estimate or any idea of what the re-payment plan would be. That is simply too much uncertainty. 

The six main points in our view are:

  • The cost of the proposal and uncertainty of the timeline (as stated above)

  • The proposal only addresses energy delivery costs

    • The precedent it would set for forced buyouts of companies by the government
        • If this passes, energy delivery would still be governed by the Maine PUC, just as it is now. While delivery costs are a factor, the majority of a household energy bill is determined by energy production costs which are dictated by global energy markets and several other factors that this proposal doesn’t address at all

            • The risk of replacing the current experts with a leadership team of elected politicians
          • Seven elected officials will appoint six colleagues to make up the Pine Tree Power leadership team which in all likelihood will lead to a partisan group managing electricity distribution instead of experts in the energy field

  • The plan calls for a 3rd party vendor to run the day-to-day operations of the grid; we are skeptical that a 3rd party vendor exists that will run a grid that they don’t own the poles or the wires for. To our knowledge nothing like this exists on a statewide level anywhere in the US

  • The dangerous potential for fewer clean energy investments in the grid during the 7-10 years the grid ownership is disputed in the courts

Even if we were okay with setting the precedent of forced buyouts of private companies by the government- which most assuredly we are not- this proposal would need to offer some guarantee of demonstrable overall cost savings to Mainers for us to support it. Without knowing the overall cost, or how those costs will be repaid through general obligation bonds or ratepayers specifically, no one can guarantee this will be any more cost-effective than the status quo.

Additionally, any claims of increased clean energy investment would require knowing the investment plans held by the current operators. Given that we don’t know these plans, it is aspirational at best, and far from a certainty, to say that this new entity will assuredly do more. It is also difficult to see how Pine Tree Power can guarantee they will take on additional clean energy projects beyond the already enormous acquisition cost; if they do, how much more of a burden will this be to taxpayers or rate payers? We see no answers to these very reasonable questions.

We cannot afford to make a $10,000,000,000 (10 billion dollar) gamble- more than the State of Maine’s biannual budget of $9.2B- on the belief that the unresolved issues in this proposal will work out in the most favorable and cost-effective way. It would be irresponsible to sign a contract of this size without a clear price tag and payment plan. Setting a precedent for forced buyouts by the government and risking delays in clean energy investment are just two other nails in the proverbial coffin. Thus, we cannot support the proposal of Pine Tree Power.

We urge Maine voters to vote No on Question 3. 

Addendum for Consideration on Question 1 and Question 2
In our opinion, Question 1 and Question 2 are related to Question 3. The BBRC team is asking voters to consider voting:

  • Yes on 1
  • No on 2
  • No on 3

The BBRC website ( ) has a BBRC 2023 Ballot Positions on Questions 1, 2 & 3 (2,000 words) on the rationale and sources used to reach the conclusions for Question 3, as well as much more reasoning for the suggested considerations for Question 1 and Question 2.

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