I’m Candice Fortin (she/her), the U.S. Campaigns Manager at 350.org. After working on over 30 electoral campaigns and countless issue-based direct actions, I’m so thrilled to join the 350 US team to take on one of the biggest fights of our lifetime: ending the era of fossil fuels.
One key part of my role is identifying the hurdles that stand in the way of the just transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy — and then organizing campaigns to tackle these challenges head-on. As you may have heard, we’re focusing some of our new campaign work on utilities — and here’s why. Utility corporations:
- Continue to invest in fossil fuels by building new infrastructure and refusing to phase out dirty coal and gas plants.
- Control access to the electrical grid and are able to prevent large and small renewable projects from connecting.
- Are vicious about cutting off access to basic energy services for working-class people and stopping middle-class people from receiving economic benefits from installing rooftop solar.
Right now, we have a unique opportunity to harness public outrage at high utility bills and force utilities to deliver on broader climate goals at the same time. We have a few exciting projects in the mix, including 350.org’s endorsement of the Pine Tree Power Ballot Initiative!
What you need to know about the Pine Tree Power Ballot Initiative:
This initiative is on the ballot in Maine and, if passed, would create a consumer-owned non-profit utility that would replace the state’s two largest utility companies — Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant. For years, CMP has been voted the worst utility in the nation, with a record number of shut-offs due to their incredibly high rates. They are also one of the biggest anti-climate lobbyists in the state.
In Maine, home heating and car transmissions are responsible for the highest percentage of carbon emissions. By replacing these utility companies with community-owned Pine Tree Power Company, we would be able to save money, remove barriers for renewable energy projects, and dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
Why the Pine Tree Power Ballot Initiative has 350’s endorsement:
Similar to our history of installing solar panels in the path of the Keystone pipeline, we are looking for big fights where we can both show solutions and resist fossil fuel infrastructure — which includes organizing and building the momentum needed to pass the Pine Tree Power Ballot Initiative.
Because this is a statewide initiative, this would be the largest transition to a publicly-owned utility model on record. By securing this victory, we’ll be setting the stage for even more states to follow Maine’s example and place control over utilities — and the transition to renewables — into our communities’ hands.
We know this won’t be easy. The fossil fuel industry and private utility companies will do whatever they can to sink this ballot initiative, including pouring tons of money into lobbying and smear campaigns.
Our movement has had the odds stacked against us before and won. It’s time that we change the way utilities are structured so that we have power that’s truly for the people, and by the people.
To learn how you can get involved and help put the power in the people’s hands, join 350 and our partners at Our Power for a special webinar on Thursday July 13th. Register here!