Becca: So Nate, I think it’s time we let people know the big news: I’ve moved to the neighboring Lime City. I didn’t want to leave Rockland, but various circumstances led to me finding myself living in the spandex-wearing, dog-walking capital of Maine. We are about to vote here in Rockport and I don’t know what’s going on, like I would have in Rockland. Signs recently popped up: “Protect Property Rights; Vote No on #4.” At first they mystified me. Then

I realized the signs are against regulating Airbnbs. In fact, they are so against regulating Airbnbs, they are opposing a ballot item so weak sauce it is merely a basic polling of the voters on whether we think the Select Board should pursue a formal ordinance regulating Airbnbs. I say, yes on 4! We need to prioritize year-round housing and neighborhoods, not treat private property as sacred kingdoms that exist without regard for the common good.

Nate: In other political affairs, today I testified to the Maine Legislative Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology regarding LD 1708, also known as “An Act To Create the Pine Tree Power Company, a Nonprofit Utility, to Deliver Lower Rates, Reliability and Local Control for Maine Energy Independence,” also known as “The Bill to Get Rid of CMP.” It’s about replacing CMP (and Versant) with a consumer-owned utility (the delightfully named “Pine Tree Power Company”), which I think would be a great thing for Maine. And apparently a lot of other people think so too: 74 people signed up to testify in favor of the bill (Maine Public reported “more than 80,” but I counted 74), and only 13 signed up opposed; most of those opposed were reps or lobbyists for CMP or Versant. The Pine Tree Power Company would exclusively serve the people of Maine, unlike CMP and Versant, which are for-profit companies beholden to their foreign owners.

Becca: Give me the two-second pitch. What’s the cost, upfront and, say, 10 years down the line?

Nate: The Pine Tree Power Company would be financed initially by bonds, at no upfront ratepayer or taxpayer cost, and is projected to save Mainers $9 billion over 30 years (though, of course, there is a great deal of uncertainty in such projections). Unlike CMP, it would embrace renewable energy. And it’s important to realize that consumer-owned utilities are not new or rare — there are already nine of them in Maine alone!

Becca: What do you mean by renewable energy? That’s a slippery word. Like, CMP and its partners have deluged us with fake stuff about their “clean energy corridor,” Summit Natural Gas claims fracked gas is green, some claim burning trash is renewable, etc.

Nate: It’s good you pointed that out. I was being a little careless here. The legislation itself doesn’t contain explicit definitions of renewable or clean energy, but it does state that one of the purposes of the company would be “to provide an open, supportive and competitive platform to develop and deploy renewable generation, storage, efficiency and beneficial electrification technologies.” The intention of the proponents (including me) is that the Pine Tree Power Company would explicitly work towards low carbon emissions. And because the Pine Tree Power Company Board would be elected, the people of Maine could elect board members who would prioritize clean energy (or potentially not, if that is the will of the voters). What about you, Becca? What do you think of the Pine Tree Power Company? Are you as charmed by the name as I am?

Becca: I’m more fond of Maine’s raggedy spruce trees myself, but I’m thrilled at the idea of getting rid of CMP for a locally managed, nonprofit, environmentally forward power company. On the subject of CMP, lately I’m getting flyers for solar stuff. A while back we wrote about how Summit Natural Gas’s offers were too good to be true, but the community solar offers seem legit, if a bit confusing. The basic thing is that instead of having to front the often-expensive cost of a personal solar system, Mainers can (hopefully) save money on electricity while increasing our solar power infrastructure. I haven’t decided which community solar program to be part of, but I like ReVision because it’s employee-owned and Maine-based. I was hesitant about its partnership with non-employee-owned Arcadia. But after speaking with ReVision, it seems that ReVision builds and maintains the solar farms, while Arcadia manages billing.

P.S. I’ve moved one town over for now, but Notes from Lime City will continue to cover diverse issues, feature fantastically scintillating interviews, and, Nate, you’re never leaving Rockland, so the column will stay rooted, but evolving.