The state’s largest utility is once again facing scrutiny over its communication with customers in the aftermath of Monday’s wind and rainstorm that left hundreds of thousands of Mainers in the dark.

On Central Maine Power’s outage website Tuesday, the list of streets where power was lost included only one word of information: Assessing. There was no information about when power might be restored, which is something CMP has provided in the past, although not always accurately. Additionally, CMP sent text messages to some customers Tuesday that power had been restored even when it hadn’t been.

Broc Glover, a York Beach resident, said electricity at his house was out until Tuesday afternoon and that much of the town had no streetlights on as of 5 a.m. Tuesday.

“I am just now leaving work in Portland and have yet to hear anything about power being restored in York or other surrounding towns,” he said in response to questions via Facebook. “No, CMP does not update their app or their website listing the outages. Every single town and street is still listed as ‘assessing.’ This is absolutely inexcusable.”

At the storm’s height late Monday, 400,000 customers – more than 60% of all CMP customers – had lost power after fierce winds and heavy rain slammed the state.

By Tuesday afternoon, the weather had improved, allowing line workers and tree crews to safely climb buckets and poles to repair and replace wires, poles and remove downed trees. The number of outages decreased steadily, but still topped 245,000 as of 7 p.m. Many customers in interior counties have been cut off by rising rivers and impassable roads, CMP said.


The company sent text messages to customers both ahead of the storm and during it to inform them of outages. As for when restoration would happen, though, almost all outages simply said “assessing.” The utility attempted to address the issue on its website under the heading, “What is assessing?”

“As the storm subsides, our damage assessors are out in the field getting eyes on the damage to determine how many poles are broken, trees need to be removed, transformers need replacing, wires need to be restrung and what types of crews are needed for each incident,” CMP said. “This can mean driving the extent of each circuit or, in the case of transmission lines, flying helicopters to assess the damage. All of this is ‘assessing’ and is critical so that crews respond to outages with the right equipment to make repairs.”

Spokesperson Jon Breed said CMP soon will put banner messages on its website with more information and will communicate on its website to explain “assessing” and why it takes time.

In Windham, for example, a transmission problem affected many customers Tuesday, but the utility did not know the cause. An inspection by helicopter should provide answers and “once we understand, we can inform our customers,” he said.

“In places where we can’t get access to, the interior parts, it will unfortunately remain ‘assessing’ until we understand the damage,” Breed said.

Nicole Pestana, York’s emergency management director, said CMP provided estimated restoration times in past storms.


“This is the first time it was just ‘assessing,’ ” she said.

She and the utility have communicated with county emergency management. Together, they set priorities on who, such as a hospital, will first go online and will review impediments such roadways blocked by downed wires, she said.

Maine’s public advocate, William Harwood, said utility customers did not have a chance to complain about CMP’s response or communications because the state office was closed Tuesday and it’s a “little early based on past experience.”

But many of these issues have come up in the past for CMP, and the utility has repeatedly said that it’s working to improve its communication with customers.

A lack of timely and accurate information prompted CMP to say in 2019 that it was embarrassed about its website following a powerful storm that left about 200,000 customers without power at the storm’s peak. The problems customers faced following the 2019 nor’easter were reminiscent of what they experienced after a wind and rainstorm two years earlier.

And CMP’s problems over significant billing errors and faulty smart meters several years ago prompted accusations of poor communications.

In an “Emergency Response Plan” in 2022, CMP said public communications “should be as specific and timely as conditions permit so customers can make informed choices to prepare themselves, their homes or their businesses.” The specificity of information depends on the cause of the outages, magnitude of the event and the time elapsed since the event.

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