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Electricity Today

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Electricity in Maine

1880 - Maine's first lightbulb turned on in the Willimantic Mill near Dover Foxcroft and Sebec Lake.

1887 - Presque Isle Electric Light Company is formed in the northeast corner of Maine.

1899 - Walter Wyman and Harvey Eaton incorporate the Oakland Electric Company.

1905 - Presque Isle Electric Light Company merges with the New Brunswick Electrical Power Company of Canada forming one company: The Maine and New Brunswick Electrical Power Company, Limited.

1909 - State Senator Percival Baxter introduces a bill to the Legislature prohibiting the sale of electricity out of state. Governor Bert Fernald signs the bill into law and it becomes known as the Fernald Law.

1910 - Oakland Electric Company changes name to Central Maine Power.

1913 - Maine Public Utilities Commission founded by an act of the Legislature.

1918 -The Fernald Law is the impetus behind the Maine and New Brunswick Electrical Power Company, Ltd. splitting into two separate companies:

A new company named the Gould Electric Company after majority stockholder, and eventual U.S. Senator, Arthur Gould, controlled the assets located in Maine.

The assets in Canada remain with the Maine and New Brunswick Electrical Power Company with the exception of certain water rights located in Canada which were ceded to the Gould Electric Company.

1924 - Bangor Hydro-Electric is incorporated.

1926 - Hydroelectric engineer Dexter Cooper receives a preliminary permit from the Federal Power Commission to develop a tidal dam in Passamaquoddy Bay. Cooper actively seeks to fund the project. This project becomes known as the Quoddy Tidal Dam.

1928 - The Gould Electric Company changed its name to the Maine Public Utility Company. A year later the named changed again to what is presently the Maine Public Service Company.

1929 - The Smith-Carlton Bill is passed by the Maine Legislature which would allow power companies in Maine to export electricity, repealing the Fernald Law. However, the bill never becomes law. Despite a heavy public relations campaign by the Electric Companies in Maine and the Gannett newspapers, the Smith-Carlton Bill is overturned by Maine voters during a referendum in September.

1934 - The Public Works Administration under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt denies Dexter Cooper's application for $33 million to fund the construction of the Quoddy Tidal Dam.

1935 - The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) is created by FDR's administration under its New Deal program.

1939 - Using funds from the REA, 164 residents in eastern Maine form the Farm Home Electric Cooperative.

1955 - The Maine Legislature repeals the Fernald Law.

1964 - The Farm Home Electric Cooperative merges with Kingman Electric to form Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative, which still operates in Calais.

1972 - The Quoddy Tidal Dam proposal is revived in conjunction with a proposed hydroelectric power project on the St. John River. Congress had approved the proposal to erect two new dams at Dickey and the nearby Lincoln school. Environmentalists fought the proposal, arguing that it would flood surrounding wilderness areas, destroy wildlife habitats, and spoil fishing and canoeing on the river. Private power companies also fought the project. Congress never authorized funding for Dickey-Lincoln, and eventually the project was abandoned.

1972 - Maine's first nuclear power plant, Maine Yankee, opens.

1997 - Maine Yankee closes.

1997 - The Maine Legislature votes to restructure the state's electric industry.

2000 - As of March 1, 2000 the electric industry in Maine is deregulated.

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HOME: The Story of Maine on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network was made in partnership with the Maine State Museum. Major funding was provided by the  Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency committed to fostering innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning. Additional funding provided by Elsie Viles.
Major funding for previous seasons of  HOME: The Story of Maine was made possible by a grant from Rural Development, a part of the USDA. Special support is provided by The Maine State Museum and Northeast Historic Films.