MAINE, USA — Maine's Public Utilities Commission is currently reviewing the sale of Emera Maine to ENMAX, an electric utility company based in Alberta, Canada.
The sale was announced earlier this year, but many in the Pine Tree State are expressing concern about what it means for current Emera customers and employees.
"We don't need higher rates, and we certainly don't need less customer service," said Maine Senate President Troy Jackson - (D) Allagash.
Jackson and other state legislatures, along with managers of a union representing more than half of Emera Maine's employees spoke at press conference on Wednesday about concerns they see.
"Are they going to be able to operate under the same rates or are they right away going to start raising rates, or cutting jobs or both," said Jackson.
Jackson says he's not against the sale, but wants to make sure customers are not left in the dark, and with higher rates than they are seeing now. He believes there are many unknowns, and hopes the PUC does it's due diligence in its review process.
"I'm worried," said Local 1837 business manager Dick Rogers. "We're at minimum staffing at Emera in my opinion. I'm worried that if they cut jobs, what the means for restoration efforts."
This comes after the Calgary Herald reported earlier this year that 80 ENMAX employees had been either laid off or part of a buyout program. Emera Maine director of customer service Kendra Overlock says however, ENMAX doesn't plan to change rates, and wants to keep the same number of employees.
"ENMAX has shared and committed that they want the company to be managed at the local level, and decisions that impact Maine customers be made at the local level. They've also made commitments to rate stability, and to keeping employment levels at where they are today," said Overlock.
Despite that assurance, the unknown of a new company has many, like Rogers, hoping the PUC makes the right decision in it's review process for Mainers.
"We need binding assurances that they're going to come in here and do what they say they're going to do," said Rogers.
Overlock says the PUC is expected to make a decision on the deal between Emera and ENMAX by the end of the year.