Maine Regulators Order Power Companies To Explain October Storm Response

Dec 20, 2017

The Maine Public Utilities Commission Tuesday ordered Maine’s two major electric utilities to detail their response to the October wind storm, including the number of customer outages by day and the number of outside contractors and crews they retained to help restore power.

The order resulted from a unanimous Dec. 13 vote by the PUC’s chairman and two commissioners to launch an investigation into the storm response by Central Maine Power and Emera Maine.

“The basic purpose of this regulatory system [the PUC] is to assure safe, reasonable and adequate service at rates which are just and reasonable to customers and public utilities,” the PUC wrote in its order.

The utilities must each file an initial storm report within 30 days of the order.

Their reports need to detail the daily customer outages both company wide and by circuit.

The summaries of outside contractors must include dates they were retained for the storm and the number of crews and equipment performing restoration activities for each day of the outage.

The utilities also must summarize equipment damaged by the storm.

Additionally, they must outline the operation and resilience of their control network and computer system and the Smart Meter communication systems, as applicable. CMP’s $200 million smart-grid communications network, designed to improve outage communications and storm recovery, failed the first full day into the storm.

Finally, the utilities must summarize incidents where they had to coordinate with state or local safety officials to respond to a downed line or other unsafe condition.

The PUC must give each utility a written notice of its right to review or appeal any decision the PUC makes.

In addition to responding to Tuesday’s order, CMP needs to file a separate document with the PUC detailing its costs to restore power. PUC Administrative Director Harry Lanphear said in an email to the Bangor Daily News that he expects the CMP filing “fairly soon.”

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.