Maine’s Supreme Court has ordered election officials to create new wording for a statewide referendum that sought to dismantle the state’s largest private electric utilities. The state’s highest court called on local officials to replace the language with a new entity that would answer to voters.
“The secretary of state approved the wording for the November ballot question asking Mainers if they want to create a ‘quasi-governmental power company’ governed by an elected board to supplant existing utilities.
Supporters of the proposal wanted it to be called a ‘consumer-owned utility,’ wording the secretary of state said was misleading,” Fox News reported.
“In its decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Monday did not impose specific wording but ruled most voters would be confused by the reference to a quasi-governmental power company. Critics say there’s no guarantee that prices would drop — and that they could grow. They said it would cost at least $13.5 billion to buy the utilities and that there would be protracted litigation,” the outlet added.
This ruling is a significant setback for the supporters of the referendum, who argue that a consumer-owned utility would provide lower rates and increase the use of renewable energy.
On the other hand, opponents believe that creating a consumer-owned utility would be expensive and would not guarantee lower electricity rates for customers.
The ruling comes after the state’s Supreme Court rejected the wording of another referendum question that would have required a public vote on any proposed transmission line, project, or infrastructure that would cross more than 50 miles of land.
The court found the language misleading and unclear, and the proposed referendum has been removed from the November ballot.