Citizen initiative related to government borrowing for state entities and electric cooperatives will appear on Maine ballots in November

An initiative that would require voter approval of borrowing above $1 billion by state entities and electric cooperatives was certified to the Maine ballot and will go to voters for approval on Nov. 7, 2023.

The No Blank Checks PAC is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. On Dec. 27, 2022, 93,000 signatures were submitted to the secretary of state, and 68,807 signatures were found to be valid. This met the 67,682 minimum valid signature requirement to be certified to the Legislature. In Maine, a citizen initiative is indirect, meaning the initiative 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.

On July 6, 2023, the Maine State Legislature completed its last full day of the legislative session for the year. Because the Legislature did not take action by the end of the session, the initiative will appear on the November ballot.

The No Blank Checks initiative will appear on the ballot alongside another initiative to create a consumer-owned electric utility. On May 5, 2023, the legislature voted to send an indirect initiative to the ballot that would create the Pine Tree Power Company, a municipal electric transmission and distribution utility, and allow the company to purchase and acquire all investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities in Maine. This would replace Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant, two investor-owned utilities that service the majority of Maine residents.

Our Power Maine, the campaign supporting the Pine Tree Power Company initiative, said, “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.”

The Maine Affordable Energy Coalition, which opposes the Pine Tree Power Initiative and supports the No Blank Checks initiative, said that the Pine Tree Power Company would result in higher electricity bills for Maine residents. The coalition said, “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.”

The No Blank Checks PAC reported $1.01 million in contributions and $1.01 million in expenditures according to the latest campaign finance reports covering up until March 31, 2023. The largest donor was the Avangrid Management Company, contributing $1.00 million.

Three statewide ballot measures were certified to the November ballot in Maine. Another initiative, which would enact a right to repair law, was also certified to the ballot on July 6.

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