Central Maine Power Co. has chosen a new president and chief executive who says he will draw on his past experience at CMP to try to restore public trust in the embattled utility.

Joseph A. Purington, president of operations for Eversource Energy in New Hampshire, has been appointed to the top spot at Central Maine Power, the company announced Wednesday. Purington worked for CMP for 28 years before joining the New Hampshire utility in 2014.

Incoming Central Maine Power President and CEO Joseph A. Purington Courtesy of Central Maine Power

“I grew up on this system,” Purington said of CMP’s operations. He said he wants to focus on improving reliability and building a “smarter, stronger and more resilient grid” in the company’s service area in central and southern Maine.

Purington will replace interim President and CEO Scott Mahoney, who will transition back to his role as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Avangrid, CMP’s domestic parent company based in Connecticut.

Mahoney has lived in Maine for 30 years and took over the interim spot following the June retirement of former CMP President and CEO Doug Herling.

Purington will inherit two high-profile issues when he officially rejoins CMP in about a month: construction of a controversial power corridor to bring hydroelectric power from Quebec through western Maine, and calls for a public buyout of the utility.

CMP created a subsidiary to oversee the corridor work, and Purington said he will support the team that’s in place on the project, which is being challenged through a voter referendum in November.

And he said the best way to counter calls to create a consumer-owned utility is by improving CMP’s customer service and reliability. Purington believes that a consumer-owned and operated utility doesn’t always act in a way that’s best for the business and customers.

“I think it’s a very bad idea,” he said about the proposed takeover of CMP and separately owned utility Versant Power. “Decisions get made for political reasons.”

A consumer-owned utility would also be saddled by a huge debt taken on to purchase the company and its assets, and would likely be hobbled by lawsuits and bureaucratic infighting, Purington said.

When Purington assumes his new position, David Flanagan, whom Avangrid appointed as CMP’s executive chairman and who helped lead the search to fill the CEO post, will assume a senior advisory role with the company. Flanagan had been CMP’s head from 1994 to 2000.

Flanagan told the Portland Press Herald on Wednesday that he is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Purington said he will call on Flanagan for advice often. The two worked together to sell CMP’s electricity-generating assets when the state split electric service into companies that produce electricity and those, like CMP, that deliver that power to customers. They were also two of the key executives in charge of guiding CMP’s response to a severe ice storm in 1998 that brought down lines across the state and left many without electricity for days or weeks.

Purington worked at CMP in several positions starting in 1987, including director of distribution operations. He joined Eversource New Hampshire in 2014 and assumed the position of president for New Hampshire operations in January 2020.

In addition to rebuilding customer trust, Purington said he hopes to restore pride to the company’s workers and reassure customers that “Central Maine Power is led by Maine people.”

“I am eager to return to Maine as a proud CMP employee once more and to lead the company as we strive to meet – and exceed – the needs of our customers every single day,” Purington said in a statement. “While I will be returning to familiar territory and many familiar coworkers, we face new challenges in helping Maine realize its clean energy future.”

Flanagan said he’s confident CMP chose the right person to take charge.

“CMP will be in excellent hands with Joe returning to take the helm,” Flanagan said. “He is a Maine native, understands our customers, and his experience with CMP’s infrastructure and operations as well as his experience leading a similarly sized utility in New England are the reasons we recruited him to lead the company.”

But Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, one of CMP’s harshest critics and leader of the effort to buy out CMP and convert it to a consumer-owned utility, said he doesn’t intend to let up on his criticism just because a new person is in charge.

“I welcome the news (of a new head of CMP) and look forward to meeting with Mr. Purington to hear his thoughts on CMP’s worst-in-the nation customer satisfaction and obstruction of local renewables, as well as Maine’s 10th-highest electricity rates and second-longest outages in the nation,” Berry said. “In 50 years, I hope our children and grandchildren will look back and say Mr. Purington was an effective leader during Maine’s transition to a proven, superior utility business model and to a full, fast and fair transition to clean energy independence.”

A Jay native, Purington attended Jay High School, earned an associate’s degree from the former Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute and a bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University.


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