On Dec. 27, 2022, a campaign in Maine submitted signatures for an initiative that would require voter approval for borrowing $1 billion or more by state entities or electric cooperatives.
The No Blank Checks campaign, which submitted 93,000 signatures to the secretary of state, opposes the Pine Tree Power Company initiative, which would create a municipal consumer-owned electric transmission and distribution utility in Maine and would replace Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant.
“A scheme to seize Maine’s electric grid by eminent domain would create a government-controlled utility — and we would all be on the hook for the cost,” said the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition, an organization supporting the No Blank Checks initiative, of the Pine Tree Power Company initiative.
Last October, the Our Power campaign, which supports the Pine Tree Power Company initiative, submitted more than 80,000 signatures to the secretary of state, 69,735 of which were verified. “The company’s purposes are to provide for its customer-owners in this State reliable, affordable electric transmission and distribution services and to help the State meet its climate, energy and connectivity goals in the most rapid and affordable manner possible,” said the Our Power campaign.
Because the Our Power campaign submitted enough valid signatures, the initiative was certified to the legislature. If the No Blank Checks campaign has also submitted enough valid signatures, it would also be sent to the state legislature. The campaign would need 67,682 valid signatures for the initiative to be certified to the legislature.
In Maine, citizen-initiated ballot measures are indirect, meaning they first go to the legislature. The initiative only goes to the ballot if the legislature rejects the initiative or does not take action by the end of the session. If the legislature passes the initiative and the governor signs it, the initiative becomes law.
So far, there are no ballot questions on the 2023 Maine ballot. If the state legislature rejects or does not take action on either submitted initiative, they will go to Maine voters at the election on Nov. 7, 2023.
Other initiative petitions in Maine are still circulating. The deadline to submit signatures to the secretary of state is Jan. 26, 2023.