AUGUSTA — The freezing rain that fell across central Maine on Tuesday night did not make for easy travel Wednesday morning, when early risers grappled with sheets of ice on driveways, walking paths and roads.

But many Mainers were spared one of the more dreaded aspects of many winter storms: the power outages that follow. In Kennebec County, just over 200 Central Maine Power Co. customers lost power. By 3 p.m., just 60 households in Mount Vernon, Belgrade and Sidney were still lacking power. Some 3,100 CMP customers were still without power statewide Wednesday night.

The small number of outages was particularly welcome after last week’s nor’easter, which dumped heavy snow across the state and left tens of thousands without electricity.

In 2008, CMP began employing a 5-year cycle of trimming trees and branches from its 24,000 miles of power lines to reduce the number of lines brought down during storms, according to CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice.

“We want to make the sure the system is in good shape and that the vegetation around the systems is under control,” Rice said. “We think we’re striking a pretty good balance between preserving trees as much as possible and keeping reliability up (along the power grid).”

Before 2008, CMP had trees trimmed every seven or eight years, Rice said.

“Since we have done (the 5-year cycle), our tree-related power outages have gone down by about 30 percent,” Rice said. “We hear from our customers all the time that since we’ve (expanded) the tree trimming program that their outages have been reduced.”

Rice advised homeowners planting vegetation near power lines to consider dwarf trees and shrubs that won’t interfere with the infrastructure eventually. She also said that any homeowners who have trees near power lines can request notification and a consultation from CMP prior to the trimming.


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