Maine Utilities Enter 'Slowest Part' Of Power Restoration Effort

Nov 3, 2017

Electric crews continue to make progress toward restoring power to some 80,000 customers of Emera and Central Maine Power who have been without electricity since a wind storm tore through the state Sunday night and Monday. 

That's down from about half a million customers at the height of the storm. 

"We are at the slowest part of this - and the slowest because you might have four or six bucket trucks on a road that are going to pick up two customers," says Sara Burns, CEO of CMP, Maine's largest utility.

Burns says the rural nature of the state means slower restoration times for more remote customers, though the numbers are slowly improving.

But she says crews are also being slowed down by well-meaning residents who approach line workers with questions, hot coffee and refreshments - and accidently enter the restricted perimeter, known as the "safety zone."

Burns says she feels horrible asking people to dial down the kindness, but if they have refreshments for crews, to put them well away from where the actual work is going on.

"You can leave them across the street and point and at them and say, 'I'm leaving this sitting on this stump,' or something," Burns says. "But if you enter the zone, you're stopping our work. Let us focus on getting this done."

Maine’s Emergency Management Agency is encouraging people to keep track of storm-related damage to their property and to document all costs associated with it. They should also document losses like spoiled food.

MEMA says people should call 2-1-1 to report damage, and when they do, they can get referrals for other kinds of assistance that may be available.

Farmers who need assistance are being asked to contact the USDA Farm Service Agency, and businesses to report losses to their local economic development corporation.

CMP expects to have the bulk of its 69,000 outages mended by late Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Emera Maine says it expects to have the bulk of its remaining 13,000 outages fixed by late tonight.

Maine Things Considered host Nora Flaherty contributed to this report.