April 15, 2010

Nesting osprey's fumble causes blackout

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A pair of nesting ospreys in Brunswick caused a blackout Wednesday for 6,000 Central Maine Power Co. customers.

One of the ospreys was carrying a branch for the nest the birds were building on a wooden transmission pole, and the branch dropped onto the wires, shutting down the area's distribution system, said CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice.

The power was out from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m., when CMP had rerouted power to customers, avoiding that section of the grid.

The substation where the birds are nesting is on Bath Road, near Bath Iron Works' Harding facility, she said.

It wasn't the birds' first offense.

"This is the time of year they come back," Rice said. "In the off-season we clear (the nest) out, but it's been a struggle to keep them from" rebuilding it.

Once the ospreys nest, CMP confers with state and federal agencies because the birds are a protected species, she said. "Sometimes we do need to go interfere."

The large birds of prey don't take kindly to being disturbed.

"We'll have people up there, trying to remove the sticks, and the osprey will literally dive at them," she said.

Workers put plastic piping on top of the pole to discourage the nesting. In other areas, they have built platforms near sensitive equipment to lure the birds away from it, she said.

A separate power outage occurred at almost the same time Wednesday when a tree cut down in a logging operation hit a transmission line near Sanford Crossing Road in West Bath. That shut down power to 5,100 customers in Arrowsic, Bath, Georgetown, Wiscasset and Woolwich.

The power went out at 11:50 a.m. and was restored by 12:30 p.m.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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