Voters in Maine are about to make a decision that will impact the state’s energy future for decades to come.

On Nov. 7, Maine residents will vote on Ballot Question 3 —  a choice to replace their investor-owned electric utilities, Central Maine Power and Versant Power, with a publicly owned alternative called Pine Tree Power.

That might sound like boring politics with little impact for the average US person. It’s not.

The outcome of the vote will be the first of its kind and has big implications for the rates that Maine electric customers pay, how fast the state transitions to renewable energy sources and could set the stage for other states to follow suit. The ballot question has created a fiery debate, with even environmental nonprofits disagreeing on which option is better.

“The consumer-owned utility model has uncertainty and change attached to it,” said Peter LaFond, senior policy advocate and Maine program director for the nonpartisan Acadia Center.

LaFond, who has not endorsed one side or the other, believes it’s more of “an indication that change is needed.”

“Things need to be governed differently to move forward into a green energy future that both reduces energy costs and reduces the carbon footprint,” said LaFond.

But the vote isn’t where this issue ends. Residents will still need to remain involved if they want their voice to be heard in the future of Maine’s energy decisions.

“Regardless of the outcome of the vote, things need to change,” LaFond said. “If we’re going to meet consumer, climate and energy goals, we have to move forward with a utility system that’s responsive to those.”

To read the full article from CNET, click here.