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Maine senate committee fails to agree on utility reform bill

March 22, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine legislative committee has failed to compromise on the provisions of a utility reform bill that seeks to introduce new accountability measures for electric utilities in the state.

The senate Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee members were split three ways on the bill in a vote Friday, the Portland Press Herald reported.

That means the full state legislature will consider the different versions of the bill with a vote in the senate expected next month, the newspaper reported. The Maine house will then consider it.

Last month, Gov. Janet Mills introduced the bill that attempts to fix utility performance issues by forcing companies to meet regulatory standards for customer service, complaints, reliability and power restoration. If companies fail multiple quarterly reports, they could face a $1 million financial penalty and eventually a potential forced sale.

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Mills introduced the bill as an alternative to the initiative to replace the state’s utility companies, Central Maine Power and Versant Power, with a consumer-owned company, the newspaper said.

At a public hearing last month, power companies criticized the bill because they said that new standards and penalties aren’t necessary because their service and accountability have improved recently.

Other opponents of the bill said it does not reach far enough to keep power companies owned by conglomerates accountable.