AUGUSTA, Maine — The effort in the Legislature to pass the so-called Pine Tree Power plan hit a roadblock late Thursday night. We had reported earlier the measure had completely passed, but that turned out to be incorrect.
The bill to create a consumer owned utility that would take over Central Mainer Power and Versant Power was headed for final passage after the House voted to enact it earlier in the day. However, in a surprise move late Thursday night, two Senators changed their earlier votes and the bill was defeated, 18 to 17, according to the Legislature’s website.
A concern was raised, in part, about the potential impact on local property taxes. Sen. Ned Claxton, D-Auburn, said Auburn alone receives about $1 million in property tax revenues from CMP, and that the language of the bill left some doubt whether that money would continue to be paid. Supporters are now trying to create an amendment about guaranteeing property tax payments. They hope to be able to get that passed by the full Legislature, and that it can gain back enough Senate votes to finally pass.
Gov. Janet Mills has already sent a strong message that she has many concerns about the bill.
The Legislature has gone home for about two weeks, and is scheduled to return to Augusta on June 30 to finish its work, including voting on the remainder of the new two-year state budget.