Monday, November 3, 2014

I Ask For Your Vote

With my friend Senator Patrick Flood at Swearing-In Ceremonies, December 5, 2012.

Dear Neighbor,

My name is Craig Hickman. If you live in Readfield or Winthrop, I am your Representative to the Legislature. If you live in the part of North Monmouth, because of redistricting, you will become part of the district I currently represent in the Maine House of Representatives. If we haven’t yet had a chance to meet in person, I’m the hard-working, organic-farming, small-business-owning poet, author, and chef with a Harvard degree in government that you elected two years ago.

I ask for your vote for re-election on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. It would be my great pleasure to serve another term as your State Representative in the 127th Legislature.

I will remain forever grateful to be part of this awesome community; I won’t ever turn my back on you. Currently, I serve as Chair of the Winthrop Area Rotary Foundation, Director of the Winthrop Community Gardens & Fresh Food Bank at Annabessacook Farm, and Secretary of the Winthrop Hot Meal Kitchen. I also serve on the boards of the Annabessacook Lake Improvement Association, Theater at Monmouth, and the Western Kennebec Economic Development Alliance. I enjoy memberships in the Sons of the American Legion, Kennebec Land Trust, Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Readfield and Winthrop Historical Societies, the Winthrop Area Federal Credit Union, Maine Farm Bureau, Maine Farmland Trust, and Maine Tourism Association.

Preparing the smoker for the Winthrop Rotary Family Barbecue & Gumbo Festival to End Hunger, August 16, 2014. (Photo from KJ)

It has been the highest honor of my life to represent you in the 126th Legislature. What an unbelievably rewarding and humbling experience. To this day, I have moments when I have to ask my family if this is real. It was always my father’s dream that I become a public servant, and while I wish he were here to see me living (and loving) his dream, I believe he’s smiling down from heaven. I can almost hear his oft-repeated caveat right now: “Don’t get so comfortable with what you think you know that you fix your mind to stop learning, young man.”

I have learned that there’s more to a piece of legislation than the title; that the devil is in the details; and that lawmakers don’t always read every word of the laws we take roll-call votes on.

I have learned that too many political reporters don’t read the laws they report on; that they consistently frame every issue through the lens of partisanship; and that too much of what they write may include the facts but is nowhere near the entire truth.

I have learned that industry and special interest lobbyists have more access to the administration than lawmakers; that far too many deals on so many vital matters are made behind closed doors.

I have learned that mendacity can rule the day under the dome in Augusta; that too many people will lie to your face, repeatedly; and that bravery is a rarity in the legislative process.

Students from Maranacook Student Health Center at the State House for the suicide prevention bill.

Even still, there are times when we do the right thing, when pragmatic policy prevails over partisan politics, when the people of this great State are served well. Both the House and the Senate voted unanimously to pass a teen suicide prevention bill. We strengthened privacy rights by requiring a warrant before anyone can monitor your cell phone, becoming the first state in the nation to do so. We heard you loud and clear and voted overwhelmingly to require GMO labeling on most packaged food sold in Maine. We passed a responsible bipartisan budget that respected our civil servants, increased investments in education, and prevented a State shutdown. It would have been a profound failure of governance—the height of irresponsibility—if the Legislature had allowed that to happen.

For my part, most of the ten bills I presented were about creating a more robust food economy and protecting the long-term viability of small farms and homesteads. Four of them became public law: An Act To Expand Wild Turkey Hunting; An Act To Amend the Medical Marijuana Act at the request of two licensed caregivers in Readfield and Winthrop; An Act To Encourage Edible Landscaping in a Portion of Capitol Park; and a Resolve, To Establish a Veteran-to-Farmer Training Pilot Program.

I am proud that my resolve, under the outstanding leadership of Stephanie Gilbert of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and Tori Lee Jackson of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, brought together representatives from six governmental and three nongovernmental agencies to craft an education and training program out of existing resources for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans interested in agricultural careers.

With the O'Keefe Family at the Freedom Salute for 133rd Engineer Battalion and 1025th Survey and Design Team, August 17, 2014.

I am proud of my work with Senator Thomas Saviello and Senator Patrick Flood on a bill that helped save a family farm and small business in Readfield. In a letter to me, Jon Olson, Executive Secretary of the Maine Farm Bureau Association, wrote:
“I strongly feel one of the reasons LD696—An Act To Include Raising Equines in the Definition of Agriculture for the Purpose of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992—passed was because of your involvement. Not only did you testify at the public hearing, you also participated at the work session. From my experience being involved in the legislative process, it’s unusual for a cosponsor of a bill to do both. … LD696 was one of the most significant agricultural bills passed this session…. [It] will positively benefit all horse farms that provide boarding services as part of their operations. I know on the [Readfield] farm the cost of having to purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance would have forced them to close. There are dozens of horse farms in Maine that would have been placed in the same financial straits. Your action is appreciated by all these farmers.”

Finally, I am proud that my bill, An Act To Increase Consumption of Maine Foods in All State Institutions, overcame the difficult threshold of a two-thirds supermajority vote of both Chambers. The legislation was held over and vetoed at the opening of the Second Regular Session this past January. So I went to work to keep this rural economic development bill—this job-creating bill—alive. The House overrode the veto with the exact number of votes required. “Freshmen don’t override vetoes in either chamber, Hickman,” said a veteran newscaster. The Senate, however, sustained the veto by a two-vote margin. If we are going to incentivize state government to invest more of our own money in Maine’s farms and fisheries in order for Maine to become more food self-sufficient, a State policy my bill would help to implement, then we will have to try once more. And so it’s time to step up again.

Harvesting Garlic Scapes at Annabessacook Farm, July 9, 2014. (Photo from PPH)

I ask for your vote because we have more work to do. I have sown some seeds. A few of our ideas have taken root. I would love to see them bear fruit.

I take great pride in earning the respect of legislators from across the political spectrum in both the House and the Senate; in listening to every point of view and reading every word of all the bills and amendments before I vote on them; in voting my conscience even when it goes against my party. I take great pride in admitting when I make a mistake or drop the ball; in answering every phone message (377-FARM) and email (craighickman@rocketmail.com) and letter that I receive. Yes, legislators represent the people of our districts, but at the end of the day, our votes affect the people of the entire State. And so if someone from Madawaska or Kittery or anywhere in between takes the time to reach out to me, I will respond and do my best to help. The people deserve nothing less.


We are at a crossroads. If you believe we need to elect a Representative who listens, who thinks critically, independently, and values personal liberty; a Representative who asks the hard questions and honors the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; a Representative who isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes and will never be for sale, then I believe this Representative is the best choice for these tough times.

The Oath of Office, December 5, 2012.

I ask for your vote. On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, please go to the polls and vote Hickman back in the House. It has been the highest honor of my life to represent you. I will continue to work hard for you every single day. I humbly ask for more time in Augusta to help craft creative, pragmatic policies that will rebuild this beautiful state and grow Maine’s economy from the ground up.

Thank you. Take care of your blessings.



Craig V. Hickman
Winthrop









Monday, October 27, 2014

A Clear Vision For A Prosperous Future


As owner of a working farm and fresh food bank, I believe family farms and small businesses are burdened with costly, one-size-fits-all regulations designed to help giant corporations drive us out of business. I’ve managed start-ups, directed human resources, operations, and marketing departments. I’ve been a sole proprietor and a partner. I understand the challenges facing small businesses and workers. I will continue the fight to reform regulations so small businesses and small farms can compete on an even playing field and create the jobs we need right here in Maine.

As a conservationist, I believe Maine must harness the power of the wind and the sun to produce renewable energy and end our addiction to fossil fuels. We’ll protect Maine’s enthralling beauty, jumpstart our economic recovery, and create new jobs.

As an organic farmer, I believe locally grown food is national security. I will continue to fight for greater food self-sufficiency for the state, better infrastructure, and a comprehensive plan to end hunger in Maine once and for all. Access to wholesome food is a right for every citizen. We must not allow a single one of us, especially our children and our seniors, to go hungry for a single day. We have all the natural resources and the hard-working, independent-spirited people to grow, catch, hunt, trap, produce, process and distribute enough food to feed our state and strengthen our rural economies. Let’s stop importing more food per capita than any other state on the continent. Maine food means Maine jobs.

As an artist and author, I’ll leave you with a quote from James Baldwin, one of my favorite American authors. He believed that the role of the artist is to tell us who we are. Given what we face right now, I believe his words are timely. And necessary:

“One must say Yes to life and embrace it wherever it is found—and it is found in terrible places... For nothing is fixed, forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us, and the light goes out.”

If the citizens of Winthrop, Readfield, and North Monmouth believe we need to keep a hard-working farmer with a passionate voice and a clear vision for a prosperous future in the Maine House of Representatives, then please go to the polls on November 4 and cast your vote to re-elect Representative Craig V. Hickman of Winthrop.

Thank you. Take care of your blessings.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Most Reponsive Public Servant

Freedom Salute for 133rd Engineer Battalion and 1025th Survey and Design Team

Representative Craig Hickman has been a consistent community presence as a member of many different service organizations, including the Winthrop Hot Meal Kitchen, Sons of the American Legion, and the Winthrop Area Rotary Club since well before his election to the Legislature. He has continued his direct service to the community and remains focused on the key issue of hunger relief, especially for seniors and vulnerable families with young children.

Craig remains the single most responsive public servant I know. He was very supportive of me, my family, and my unit before, during, and after our recent deployment to Afghanistan as part of the 133rd Engineer Battalion. He is caring and compassionate about the issues most important to military members, veterans, and our families.

As a registered Republican I feel very strongly that our Legislators should continue to reform and improve our state government. Craig believes in the importance of carefully monitoring government spending, eliminating waste wherever it occurs, and using sensible solutions to budgetary problems that everyone can agree on.

In every conversation I have ever had with Craig about community issues he has impressed with how seriously he takes his duty to honestly represent us and our views. He has made it clear to me that he sees the needs of this district as different from those of others, especially the larger cities.

All too often people of goodwill like Craig feel intimidated by the political process and chose to stay out of the race. I think we are fortunate to have the opportunity to re-elect someone who quite clearly understands our community issues at every level and can be counted on to work together with other Legislators to get things done.

I look forward to casting my vote for Craig Hickman on November 4th and encourage others in Winthrop, Readfield, and North Monmouth to do the same.

— George O'Keefe, Jr
., Past Commander 2013-2014, Winthrop VFW; Member, 133rd Engineer Battalion; Member, Payson Tucker Hose Co. #1, Winthrop

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jefferson Jackson Dinner 2014

It was an honor and a pleasure to speak about food, family, farming, and the importance of agriculture to Maine's economic development, especially in rural communities, at last night's Jefferson Jackson Dinner at Pineland Farms. The venue was perfect; the food, most delicious

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Meet: Craig Hickman, Farmer And Legislator

"IS AUGUSTA FRUSTRATING? “Of course,” he said. “But with persistence comes success, so I will try again and see what happens.” He hopes to bolster Maine food and sustainability, fight for greater food sovereignty and better infrastructure, including more opportunities for farmers to process their livestock. “I see small farms as the solution to some very big problems.”

I was honored to be featured in the Source earlier this summer. Read the whole profile here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A House Full

Earlier in spring,
Loss came knocking
at my door.

Within weeks,
Loss came knocking
again.

A few days later,
Grief checked in.
Brought a lot of baggage,
took the biggest room,
the Edwardian,
the one with the private bath,
looking like he was going to stay awhile.

Little did we know.

A month or so ago,
Loss came knocking
two more times.

Didn’t see her coming either time
(a suicide, one; an untimely tragedy, two)
but she came anyway,
knocking me right down.

Soon, Sadness came to visit.
Took the Blue Room
right at the top
of the stairs.

The next day, right
next door, Weary
checked into the Purple Room.

What next?

Within a week,
Loss came knocking
at my door once more.

This time we scattered
our dearest friend’s
ashes right out back,
behind the pond, beneath
the giant weeping willow,
atop the grave of our
beloved dog and cat—

exactly as she wanted.

By then, Grief unpacked
all his bags, put away
all his belongings, shoved
all his baggage
under the bed.
Safe to say,
he’s moved in—

indefinitely.

Sometimes, when Despair stops by
to spend the night with Sadness,
when Fatigue settles in with Weary—
if only for one night—
you better believe
it gets hard to believe
morning will ever come.

Several days ago,
Loss came knocking
at my door again.

Again.

And yet again.

At the end of the hall,
in the Ivory Room,
down from Sadness and Weary,
Exhaustion showed up in the
middle of the night,
stumbled onto the bed,
pulled the covers over
her head and locked
the door.

There’s no more
room
in the inn.

No.

More.

Room.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Maine History: Fourth of July

From the Maine Memory Network

::

When John Dunlap, official printer to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, set the type form in his press on the night of July 4, 1776, he apparently was in a hurry to get out the first printed copies of "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled."

Between July 2 and July 4, representatives of the Continental Congress had debated the language of the draft written largely by Thomas Jefferson. When they approved the document that came to be known as the Declaration of Independence, they voted that copies "be sent to the several assemblies, conventions and committees, or councils of safety, and to the several commanding officers of the continental troops; that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army."


 
Dunlap got the order, the type was set, a proof drawn, corrections made. Then the revised type was set in the press, slightly askew. That is one clue to the authenticity of Dunlap Declaration broadsides.
In 1976, Frederick Goff published the findings of a Library of Congress examination of 17 of the 21 known surviving copies of that first printing of the Declaration. The study measured margins and dimensions, looked at chain lines (printing marks), watermarks, type of paper, folds, endorsements, broken letters and other clues about the documents. Those findings have been useful in determining the status of other documents that appear to be Dunlap imprints from July 4, 1776.

Maine Historical Society's copy of the Dunlap broadside, in the society's collections since 1906, was authenticated in 1991.


Fourth of July Celebrations

To access a list of Fourth of July celebrations across the state, please visit http://www.maine.info/July4.php.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Kind Of Miracle


Last week, at the invitation of Bangor City Council Chair Ben Sprague, I had the honor and pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on hunger and local food systems in Maine. Only he could have convinced me to attend the summit on a sunny day in the middle of planting season. But when there's a public conversation about an issue dear to my heart, I'll travel the state in order to participate.

"There's a hunger beyond food that's expressed in food, and that's why feeding is always a kind of miracle," was the quote from a wise priest I used to begin my panel presentation.  I read it a few years ago in the book Take This Bread.

The event was well-attended; the discussion lively. Sprague opened the summit by pointing out how the face of hunger has changed in recent years. Mark Kelley of the Pulse Morning Show moderated the panel with humor and ease. Other participants included Heather Retberg from Quill's End Farm in Penobscot, a leader in the Maine food sovereignty movement; Melissa Huston from Good Shepherd Food Bank of Northern Maine; Dr. Rebecca Boulos of the University of New England; and Kristen Michelle Brown, a Uinversity of Maine student.
   
It was most encouraging to hear the stories of a cadre of young people who are working on ending hunger in their communities through education, emergency food relief, and support for the development of resilient local food systems.
   
The Bangor Daily News covered the summit in print and WCSH6 news ran a segment  on their morning broadcast.

I remain humbled to serve you. Please call me at 377-3276 if you have any questions or concerns.

Take care of your blessings.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Drawing To A Close

Photo by Senator Colleen Lachowicz

This morning, right around one o'clock, the 126th Legislature nearly completed its work. I drove my frost-covered truck west on 202 barely able to focus my too-tired eyes. We will return on Thursday, May 1, at ten o'clock in the morning, to reconsider legislation vetoed by the Governor.

After it is finished, I will reflect on my first term in this most challenging, rewarding, and humbling experience. A few triumphs, lots of setbacks, loads of laughter, and even a few tears. Serving the People of Maine in the Maine Legislature remains the highest honor of my life.

I shall forever remain incredibly grateful to the voters of Winthrop and Readfield. Thank you so much. You have proven that anything is possible.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Ask For Your Help

Dear Neighbor,

As many of you know, I am seeking re-election this year. As I have done for the last two elections, I'm again running as a Clean Elections candidate in order to be beholden to the People only.

If you are a registered voter (Republican, Democrat, Green Independent, or Unenrolled) in Readfield, Winthrop, or a part of North Monmouth, which will be the new District 81, please consider donating $5 in my name online at the following link:

https://www5.informe.org/cgi-bin/online/ethics/cleanelection/home.pl

The deadline is April 20, so please don't delay. I need to collect a total of sixty (60) contributions in order to qualify, so if there is more than one registered voter in your household who wishes to contribute, you will need to make separate contributions in order for them to each be counted.

If you've already contributed, thank you very much.

If you don't live in my district but want to support my campaign, I can collect up to $500 in seed money, with no more than $100 from any individual. If you want to make a seed money contribution, please send me a message. The deadline for seed money contributions is also April 20.

It's been an honor to serve you. I hope I may continue for another term.

Thank you for your continued support.

Take care of your blessings.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Holocaust Survivors Attend State House


Remarks on the Joint Resolution Commemorating the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine’s Legislative Awareness Day and Yom Hashoah, the Day of Remembrance presented by Representative Craig V. Hickman of Winthrop – April 8, 2014

Today, we remember the Holocaust because we must never forget.

African Americans and American Jews have interacted throughout much of the history of this nation. This relationship has included widely publicized cooperation and sometimes conflict, and—since the 1970s—has been an area of significant academic research. The most significant aspect of the relationship was the cooperation during the civil rights movement, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry and tyranny have no place in a free society.

Today, we recognize and honor Holocaust survivors who are citizens of Maine.

::

Ed Benedikt:  Ed Benedikt left Austria, with his sister, on a ‘Kindertransport’ rescue operation, in December 1938. Kindertransports rescued nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from possible capture, by transporting them via train to the UK. There, they were placed into British foster homes, hostels schools or farms. In 1943, Ed and his sister left England and were able to be reunited with their parents in the US.

Dr. Julius Ciembroniewicz:  Dr. Julius Ciembroniewicz was a young teenager when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. Forced into a life on the run, his family was separated and he spent the war hiding in a monastery outside of Krakow. Upon liberation, Dr. Ciembroniewicz was reunited with only two of his family members and restarted his education. After becoming a physician and neurosurgeon, he defected to England and eventually came to the United State. Dr. Ciembroniewicz continues to be active as a neurosurgeon in Augusta and Lewiston.
 

Klaus Heimann:  Klaus Heimann grew up in Berlin and was able to leave with his immediate family just days before WWII broke out. They came to NYC. He had relatives, however, who were not able to get out, and perished in the camps. Klaus became an engineer and then ended up in Maine, and, in his retirement, took to repairing sewing machines.

Cantor Kurt Messerschmidt:  Born in Germany in 1915, Kurt was a coach and teacher at a Jewish school in Berlin until 1943 when he was deported with his fiancĂ©e, Sonja, to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Within the ghetto, despite long days of forced labor, Kurt sought to be a source of comfort and leadership. Kurt and Sonja married in Theresienstadt but soon were separated when Kurt and his brother, Henry, were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and assigned to work detail at Golleschau. Kurt survived Golleschau and a death march and was liberated in 1945. In the early post-war days, Kurt worked as a teacher and translator in Germany while searching for news of his family. After Kurt’s reunion with Sonja, they lived in Munich until 1950 when they emigrated to the US where Kurt continued his profession as a teacher and musician. 

**Evelyn Panish:  Born in Germany in 1930, Evelyn lived in Berlin until fleeing with her family to China. In 1940, Evelyn and her family escaped Nazi persecution by emigrating to Shaghai via Russia, Siberia and Manchuria. They emigrated to the US in 1947. 

**Charles Rotmil (hidden child Holocaust survivor):  Born in Alsace Lorraine  in 1932, Charles moved with his family to Vienna in 1938. Two years later, they escaped to Belgium and then to France, in their attempts to flee the war against the Jews. By 1943, his mother and sister had died in a train crash and his father had been gassed in Auschwitz. Father Bruno Reynders, a Benedictine monk, took Charles and his brother under his wing, along with 400 other children. They lived in hiding, under false names, until the liberation in 1945. In 1946, he arrived in the United States. He spent many years as a schoolteacher and now is a filmmaker living in Maine.

**Max Slabotsky (Holocaust survivor):  Born in Belgium in 1931, Max learned the art of tailoring from his father. When he was twelve years old, Max was arrested with his parents and sent to Auschwitz where he was put to work for the Germans. In addition to working on a farm that fed Germans, Max cleaned pipes and sorted the clothes from incoming prisoners. After being liberated by the Russians, he became a paratrooper and lived on a kibbutz in Israel before coming to America in 1955, where he would find success as a well-respected tailor.

::

Just as I did last year, I will close with a quote from James Baldwin, my favorite American author and one of the literary leaders of the Civil Rights Movement:

“One must say YES to life and embrace it wherever it is found, and it is found in terrible places… For nothing is fixed; forever and forever, it is not fixed. The earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fades, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us, and the light goes out.”

Always treat one another with kindness.

Take care of your blessings.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

(**Present in the House Chamber when the Joint Resolution was presented on April, 8, 2014.)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Winthrop Third Graders in the House

A group of Winthrop third graders toured the Blaine House, the Maine State Museum, and the State House today.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Maranacook Community Middle School Chorus in the House

This morning, the Maranacook Community Middle School Chorus serenaded the State House. From the gallery, the students delivered a beautiful arrangement of the National Anthem for the House Chamber.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Back At The State House

Dear Neighbor,

Because of family losses, I was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from Saturday, March 22 to Wednesday, March 26.

My godmother, Frenchie Bell Mitchell, the woman who promised to take care of me if something ever happened to my parents, passed away after a long battle with diabetes and kidney disease. She was 89 years old. Her passing came only weeks after her son, Gary Mitchell, my younger god brother and close childhood friend, died suddenly and unexpectedly of an enlarged heart caused by untreated high blood pressure. He was 44 years old. My 86-year-old mother, who was my godmother's best friend, has been very ill for quite some time in a nursing home in Milwaukee and I had an opportunity to visit extensively with her. She was unable to attend the funeral. 

It was an intense and extremely difficult time for my family. I was blessed to be able to be there. I thank Rep. Lisa Villa of Harrison who gave me a guest pass on the airline she works for so I was able to afford the journey.

Unfortunately, I missed floor votes on those three days. I don't like missing votes, as I take seriously my work as your representative. Many of you corresponded with me about many of the votes on those days. I sincerely apologize for not being able to follow through on those votes. I hope you understand.

After a day and a half of travel, I returned home to Maine safe and sound and happy to be back in my seat.

I remain honored to serve you.

Take care of your blessings,


Craig Hickman

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Electricity Rates

Dear Neighbor,

I write to you today because you will likely notice an increase in your electricity bill at the end of this month. That is because as of March 1, a new standard offer rate of 7.6 cents per kilowatt-hour went into effect.  This is a 10.8 percent increase from last year's standard offer price.

This increase is a result of the lack of natural gas pipeline capacity coming into New England.  Natural gas is the dominant fuel source used to generate electricity in New England and becomes increasingly expensive as we simultaneously increase our use of natural gas for heating fuel.  It is important to understand that the cost of natural gas is still low as it comes out of Pennsylvania and New York.  Because of legislation that originated in the Maine Legislature's Energy Committee last year, the New England governors are now working together to solve this problem in the coming years.   

Given that, I wanted to share some information that will help you understand electricity service in Maine and the industry structure.  Hopefully, this will put you on the path to being more in control of your electricity costs.
  
You will notice that your electric service is made up of two parts: supply and delivery.

In 2000, Maine became a national leader in Electricity Restructuring.  Today, electric utility companies own and operate the distribution (wire) infrastructure bringing electricity to customers (DELIVERY).   

The electricity itself is supplied by something called the standard offer, or by other competitive electricity providers (CEP) that a customer may choose (SUPPLY).

In Maine, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), regulates the utilities that provide electricity everywhere....street lights, ballparks, malls, homes, and offices. In our neck of the woods, that utility is Central Maine Power (CMP).  

Maine's residential customers' supply comes through something called the standard offer. The standard offer is the default option for consumers who don't choose a competitive electricity provider, and is created by taking a three-year average of the cost of electricity the Maine Public Utilities Commission sources through a competitive bid process among electricity suppliers. 

Today, residential and small commercial customers are seeing competitive retail supply offers from a variety of companies.  Here is some information to help you understand this market so you can decide if you would like to keep your standard offer or go with a CEP.  

Remember, customers who make no choice will continue to receive standard offer service. For those customers who choose to go with a competitive option, they need only make arrangements with their new supplier who will then work with the utility to make the switch, and the new service be put in place around the time of the utility's next monthly billing cycle.

Nine questions to ask when choosing a supplier

1. What will I pay per "kilowatt hour" (kWh) of electricity?
2. Are there any additional customer charges or other recurring fees?
3. Is this offer a fixed-rate offer? If not, how can it change, and how do I find out when, and by how much, the rate will change?
4. Is there a contract? If so, how long is it for?
5. Is a deposit required? If so, how much?
6. What are my payment options?
7. What happens when my contract period expires?
8. What if I miss a payment?
9. Is there a penalty if I break the contract?

This table lists CEP offerings as of March 1, 2014.

Prices can change without notice, so I strongly urge you to go to the website or call the CEPs to confirm before signing up.

Competitive Electricity Provider
Rate for CMP Customers (¢/kWh)
Rate for Bangor Hydro Customers (¢/kWh)
Term
Early Termination Fee
Telephone
Standard Offer(PUC)
7.56
7.58
Until 3/1/15
n/a
n/a
7.55*
7.55*
Dec. 2014
$50
855-207-1600
7.59

8.97
7.59

8.97
6 Months Fixed

24 Months
$100

$100
866-573-2674

866-573-2674
7.49
7.49
Fixed till 12/31/14
$50
866-842-1084
7.9
8.1
7.9
8.1
One year
$75
855-485-3353
8.499
7.99
8.499
7.99
6-12 Months
Variable
855-857-6937
8.8
8.8
12 Months
$100
800-296-2721
6.69
8.64
6.69
8.64
6 months Fixed
12 months Fixed
Variable
888-313-9086
7.59

9.99
7.59

9.99
6 Months Fixed

12 or 24 Months Fixed
$60 + offset of unused

portion of elec. to others
888-997-8979

*Dead River says that its rate will not be higher than the standard offer.
All of these entities have applied for and received a license from the PUC to sell electricity. This means, among other things, that they have demonstrated that they have the technical and financial ability to sell electricity. The PUC does monitor CEPs for adherence to license conditions and to other applicable state laws, but CEPs are not regulated the way CMP and Bangor Hyrdo Electric and other utilities are. We do not have access to the CEPs' business plan or profit numbers, for example. However, the price you get is shaped by competition so regulation is not necessary.

The above table contains a summary of terms. The offerings can change at any time; I strongly recommend that you check the current price and read all terms and conditions prior to signing up for any service. For example, some may require that you allow them to perform a credit check, or to report you to credit reporting agencies in the event that you fail to make payments. Keep in mind that the Terms and Conditions are sometimes not readily found on the website; sometimes you only see it as you get closer to actually signing up.

Take care of your blessings,

Craig