The state’s two major electricity providers made significant progress Saturday to restore power to tens of thousands of Mainers, but three counties in central Maine continued to bear the heaviest burden.

As of  9:30 p.m., there were still about 80,000 Maine households in the dark – a little more than 62,000 Central Maine Power customers and another 17,000 customers of Emera Maine, which serves the northern and eastern parts of the state.

Penobscot County had the biggest share of outages – more than 9,000 from Emera Maine and another 8,500 from CMP. Somerset and Waldo counties each had more than 10,000 outages, which represented more than one-third of all households in those counties.

The outages came after a spring snowstorm walloped the state Thursday night, bringing rain and strong winds, followed by heavy, wet snow that caused limbs and power lines to break all over the state.

At peak, 204,000 CMP customers were without service, but that number has been coming down steadily since Friday.

CMP’s president and CEO, Doug Herling, said in a statement Saturday that the utility recognized that Mainers were especially reliant on home internet and electricity service in the time of the coronavirus. He said crews were working as fast as they could, while still practicing social distancing recommended by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have restored about 75,000 customers since this morning and are making good progress,” Herling said. “We appreciate that this is a particularly stressful time and that it is frustrating to be without power. Our employees and contractors are committed to restoring every customer as safely and as quickly as we can.”

CMP spokeswoman Catharine Hartnett said on Friday that, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the utility had prioritized restoring power to hospitals and food distribution sites. All hospitals in CMP’s coverage area have power, she said.

On Saturday, Hartnett said the company expects to restore power to “the vast majority of customers” by Sunday night. In addition to 100 CMP crews, 439 contractor crews and 222 tree crews have joined the effort.

Hydro-Québec also announced Saturday afternoon that it was sending about 60 trucks and over 40 linemen to help with the power restoration effort in Maine. They were expected to start work in the Rumford area later in the afternoon.

Hartnett said that line crews had not been hampered too much by pandemic-era safety measures at work, which include limiting employees to one per vehicle, maintaining physical distance at work and only entering customers’ residences in case of emergency.

“The social distancing efforts do not impact the restoration efforts measurably, but may make a slight difference,” Hartnett said in an email. “We need to manage more vehicles at each work location as everyone travels separately. We must organize work onsite so that line workers are appropriately physically distanced. This takes some adjusting for some work, but a month in, crews are getting more accustomed to it.”

In response to financial pressures caused by the pandemic, CMP recently announced it will suspend fees for late payment and reconnection, as well as extend eligibility protections to customers participating in certain payment plans.

Emera Maine reported just over 17,000 outages as of 9:30 p.m. Saturday, down from a peak of about 70,000. On its website, the power company said it planned to release a list of areas later on Saturday that should expect to have power by the end of the day.

“Emera Maine crews will be out in force on Saturday working to restore service to customers affected by the April storm,” Emera’s statement said. “Public safety issues, such as downed lines, will continue to be the first priority, and then electrical circuits that will bring the largest numbers of customers on first.”

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