A group gathers in Lewiston on Monday to press for public ownership of Maine’s electrical infrastructure. Among the protesters is Wendy Schlotterbeck of Auburn, second from left, who dressed as Sally the Salamander.  Sun Journal photo by Steve Collins

LEWISTON — A group of environmental activists, including one dressed as a spotted salamander, rallied Monday to press for a plan to create a public utility by buying out Central Maine Power.

The privately-owned electricity delivery company has had its chance, said Rob Levin of Portland, “and they’ve blown it.”

About 20 people gathered beside a Central Maine Power facility at Northwood Road and Main Street on Monday to show their support for a bill introduced by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, that would create a consumer-owned utility to replace the longtime power provider.

Wendy Schlotterbeck of Auburn, who dressed by as Sally the Salamander, said she’s come out from her hiding place in the wilderness to endorse efforts by “the good people of Maine” to buy out the Spanish-owned power company.

“It’s a win-win-win-win for everybody except the company and stockholders,” she said.

Berry seeks to create a new, public utility that he said can lower rates and improve reliability.

Central Maine Power is fighting Berry’s bill, insisting that it has a long track record of success, a well-trained workforce and plans to improve its delivery of electricity to many of Maine’s residents.

Levin said Berry’s measure is “the most important climate bill in this session” that offers a chance to make progress  and “get rid of this big obstructionist company” that stands in the way of dealing with climate change.

Anne Burt, a spokesperson for the Goodbye CMP, Hello Local Control rally, said the event was meant to help the public learn about the proposal and to get supporters together.

“It’s a party,” she said, “a goodbye party.”

The Legislature’s Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology is holding a public hearing on Berry’s bill at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Cross Building in Augusta.


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