Berry, Grohoski issue statement on Versant request to PUC

AUGUSTA – Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) and House chair of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, and Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth) a member of the Energy, Utilities and Technologies Committee, issued the following statements in response to Versant Power’s intention to file a request to the Maine Public Utilities Commission asking for an increase in distribution rates.

“The nearly 160,000 Versant customers in rural Maine already pay more on average for the delivery of electricity than other Mainers, and a proposed 25 percent increase starting later this year will only make this worse,” said Rep. Nicole Grohoski. “Many Mainers were struggling to get by before the pandemic and the idea of additional household expenses is just too much. Better service is important, but it’s not worth a family going broke. It is time that hardworking and self-reliant Maine people take ownership of our energy future and stop paying the high prices that Versant’s foreign government owners demand of us, their captive customers, to ensure their substantial profits.”

“Versant’s captive customers may not realize it, but they are now required to pay a guaranteed profit to the City of Calgary, Canada, a foreign government that has taken over most of Maine’s eastern and northern electrical grid. Versant is wholly owned by this foreign government,” said Rep. Seth Berry. “Even without this 25 percent increase,” Berry continued, “Versant’s customers in northern Maine already pay twice the delivery rate paid by customers of the consumer-owned utility in the Houlton area, the Houlton Water Company. And unlike their Houlton-area neighbors, who directly elect their utility’s board members, Versant’s captive customers have no say in the decisions of their utility. Versant’s guiding purpose is to earn money from Maine for the City of Calgary, while Houlton’s only purpose is to benefit its own customers.”

Berry represents House District 55: Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Swan Island and most of Richmond. He previously served from 2006-2014, the final two years as House majority leader, and returned to the House in 2016.

Grohoski, who is serving her second term in the Maine House, represents the towns of Ellsworth and Trenton and sits on the Energy, Utilities and Technologies Committee.

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