Central Maine Power Co. has essentially completed its response to last week’s storm, a company official said early Monday afternoon.

The number of outages dipped to about 200, said Catharine Hartnett, spokeswoman for the utility. Hartnett said that’s the number the company deals with on a typical day, with outages caused by things like a car hitting a utility pole or other routine outages.

While some of the remaining outages may be storm-related, the utility is now dealing with individual locations, rather than whole neighborhoods or towns.

At the peak, about 180,000 people lost power Thursday after a storm, packing high winds and powerful gusts, blew through the state. Coastal counties, including Cumberland and York were particularly hard hit and CMP officials said Portland and Cape Elizabeth suffered a lot of damage. At one point, more than 90 percent of Cape Elizabeth’s 4,400 CMP customers were without power.

Around 2 p.m. Monday, CMP’s website indicated there were 378 outages, but Harnett said CMP’s internal information indicated the number had dipped to about 200. Hartnett said the company uses reports by customers, information gathered by crews in the field and automated sensors to determine where outages have occurred and predict restoration times.

The predictions are based on an algorithm that is used by utilities around the country, Hartnett said, although during this storm, the company was cautious, wary of “over-committing and under-delivering.”


She said the utility will soon gather executives and managers to assess CMP’s response to the storm. Hartnett said initial assessments indicate that company officials feel CMP did a good job working with local officials on matters such as clearing roads in the immediate aftermath of the storm and communicated well with customers and state officials about restoration efforts.

Barry Hobbins, the state’s public advocate on utility matters, concurred, saying CMP and Emera Maine — which had less extensive storm damage in its service area in northern Maine — kept state and local officials in the loop on the response to the storm. He said that aspect of the storm response was better than it was after a stronger storm hit the state in late October 2017, knocking out power to nearly 500,000 customers.

Hobbins said he spoke several times in the last five days with Douglas A. Herling, CMP’s president and chief executive officer, about the storm response and those conversations were initiated by Herling.

“Two years ago, I never got one phone call from Central Maine Power,” Hobbins said. “That was missing during the last storm, so I think they got it.”

But, Hobbins said, he thinks the Public Utilities Commission should fold a review of the response to last week’s storm into ongoing investigations before the body. One deals with the company’s customer service response to increasing bills that many customers saw two years ago and the other is a review of a rate increase being sought by CMP.

“It was a better response than two years ago, but two years ago was twice the storm or more,” he said.


Hartnett said the company will comply with whatever the PUC decides, but said CMP would prefer that the commission deal with the issues before it and open up a new investigation into the storm response if it feels it’s needed. The investigation into customer service has been open for about a year, she said.

During this year’s storm, the PUC received about 16 calls from CMP and Emera Maine customers “expressing concerns about power restoration,” said Harry Lanphear, administrative director for the commission.

The PUC reviewed the performances of CMP and Emera Maine following the 2017 storm and found both “acted reasonably” in both preparation for and response to the storm. However, it did order the utilities to submit improvement plans for coordination and communications with state and local agencies and the public.

Hobbins said he would like to see the PUC and CMP discuss what steps can be taken to improve storm response in the light of climate change that many experts predict will result in more frequent strong storms.

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