AUGUSTA (NEWS CENTER Maine) - A bill that could affect your power bill is in limbo because of a veto by Governor LePage.
"LD 1729," a bill that would add regulations to large electric companies like CMP, passed unanimously in the House and Senate. It was later vetoed by the governor.
If passed, the bill would do three things, according to Representative Seth Berry, one of its sponsors.
- It would make it possible for large Public Utilities Commission investigations to be paid for by company shareholders rather than customers, depending on the findings of the investigation.
- It would create space for a third party entity to regularly test Smart Meters for accuracy.
- It would require the Public Utilities Commission to craft a report regarding power companies' storm preparations and executions.
The bill never explicitly names Central Maine Power, which is under investigation by the PUC, but its sponsor admits CMP's recent billing controversy initiated the bill. "You know, I think the problems that Central Maine Power has had are the reason that we realize this bill is necessary," Seth Berry said.
Governor LePage wrote in his veto message that he finds the targeting of a "specific company" to be "unfair and unconstitutional." He alluded to the bill being a political ploy by lawmakers "to look good in an election year."
The company who would be most affected by the bill actually testified in support of it. A spokesperson for CMP testified in April, saying the company "takes every complaint seriously" and supports extra regulation.
The legislature will vote to override the veto on Monday, July 9th. If it passes, it will go into effect immediately because it was proposed as an "emergency" bill.
"It would be shocking" if legislators sustained the governor's veto, according to Representative Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat. "A lot of people are going to be watching very carefully to see if anyone at the state house flipped their vote to stand up for Central Maine Power instead of their customers."