Central Maine Power makes slow progress recovering from hurricane

A damaged "sub-transmision" line poles located off the River Road near the Memorial Bridge overpass in Auburn.

Nearly 110,000 Mainers were still without power as of 9 p.m. Monday, more than a day after Tropical Storm Irene blew across the state, a CMP spokesperson said. Some customers will remain without electricity for several more days, the company said, as repair work moves from urban centers to lower-population rural areas.

John Pertel, Special to the Sun Journal

A worker from L.E. Myers works on replacing two damaged "sub-transmision" line poles located off the River Road near the Memorial Bridge overpass in Auburn

John Pertel, Special to the Sun Journal

A crane from L.E. Myers is parked while workers repair two damaged "sub-transmision" line poles located off the River Road near the Memorial Bridge overpass in Auburn.

John Pertel, Special to the Sun Journal

A worker from L.E. Myers works on replacing two damaged "sub-transmision" line poles located off the River Road near the Memorial Bridge overpass in Auburn

"Irene brought a challenging combination of high winds, heavy rain, and flooding that affected nearly every community in our 11,000-square-mile service area," CMP Director of Operations Tom DePeter said in a statement Monday night.

As many as 280,000 Mainers lost power at some point during Sunday's storm, he said. The most that were without power at any one time was 187,000 at 9 p.m. Sunday, the statement said.

"So we are making progress," CMP spokesperson Gail Rice said.

Rice said crews concentrated Monday on assessing the damage and fixing high-capacity lines in some of the more populated areas.

"We restore from the core out," Rice said. "We restore the transmission lines that serve substations first, then from the substations to the big three-phase lines that serve the centers of town and the larger number of customers and the highly populated areas. Then we move out to the service drops, between individual poles and somebody's house."

Rice said she expected some rural customers would be without electrical power for several days.

CMP brought in crews from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada to help with repairs. The additional 205 non-CMP line crews pushed the number of people working on the lines statewide 1,000.

In Auburn, a crew from the Illinois-based L.E. Myers Co., in town working on the installation of CMP's $1.4 billion transmission line as part of the Maine Power Reliability Program upgrade, was diverted from the transmission line work to help restore power to individual CMP customers.

"We hope to make a push today, with a lot of additional crews that are ready to roll," Rice said. "Really, we are in the first full day of restoration. Yesterday we spent most of the day making things safe around downed lines. We were able to make a few repairs Sunday, but with the winds still blowing it was really hard to make any real progress."

Rice said Cumberland, York and Kennebec counties were the hardest hit by electrical power outages. As of 9 p.m., 109,545 Maine customers were without power; 26,968 were in Cumberland County, 23,505 were in York County and 18,960 were in Kennebec County.

The company said 12,424 Androscoggin County customers were without service Monday evening, 12,335 were without service in Oxford County and 2,090 were out in Franklin.

In Lewiston at least, the damage could have been much worse, according to city arborist Steve Murch. Murch said gusts in Lewiston reached about 35 to 40 miles-per-hour at the city's Sabattus Street monitoring station.

"That's usually enough to bring down branches but not whole trees," he said. "A normal tree can withstand that easily. A lot of these things that broke were weak branches or areas where there's rot — not that it makes it any better for somebody when your power's out or the tree is on your car."

Stronger winds, such as those reported in other parts of the state, would have meant more problems.

"Imagine what it would have looked like if the winds had been 65 miles  per   hour," Murch said.

The storm was at its worst for about five hours Sunday, from 3 to about 8 p.m.

His crew stopped about 10:30 p.m. Sunday but were back in Monday morning.

"I think we'll spend a good part of the week on this," Murch said. "A good part of it depends on CMP right now. There are eight to 10 locations now where there are trees down that we can't do anything about because there are wires. We can't handle that until CMP comes and clears the wire."


Maine power outages by county

As of 9 p.m. Monday

Cumberland: 26,968
York: 23,505
Kennebec: 18,960
Androscoggin: 12,424
Oxford: 12,335
Lincoln: 4,616
Waldo: 2,822
Somerset: 2,579
Franklin: 2,090
Sagadahoc: 1,670
Penobscot: 451
Hancock: 437
Knox: 387
Piscataquis: 301
CMP Total: 109,545

Source: Central Maine Power Co.

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Allisa Milliard's picture

i thought that cmp did a good

i thought that cmp did a good job, the same as when we lose it in the winter. we lost ours during the storm, and got it back around 5:30 last night. there are a lot of rural roads, and with trees leaning on lines and branches cought up and lines down and transformers blown and a line disconnected off this house but not that one, there are alot of possible issues and they must take care of the big ones first, then go back for individuals. i had also heard that crews were brought in from canada as well as other states before the storm so that they were ready to run as soon as it was safe to go. i remember the ice storm of '98 and being without power for 2 weeks, so a few hours wasn't that bad.

David  Cote's picture

Really, Dan?

We were warned several days before this storm to prepare fot it. And I heard the comments such as, "Ah this storm will be no big deal." C.M.P. told us to be prepared for extended outages. They were right and, apparently, this wasn't just another storm. I know a lot of people that work for C.M.P. All good people. Do you think they're out there twiddling their thumbs? It's the people who didn't prepare that are the angriest, and I don't feel sorry for them one bit. Belly-aching on a blog won't make the situation better. For the record, we do not have power yet. We prepared for that and we're actually enjoying a few days without the technological comforts that rule our lives. It's your cgoice to wallow in your swill as you wish. To me, that's a sad way of handling this situation.

 's picture

I think you're mistaking my

I think you're mistaking my anger against CMP and transferring it to the line workers. My complaint is that CMP, the company, wasn't prepared for what happened. They did not have enough crews, they waste too much time on 'assessment' instead of repair. In my case the storm was over, then the power went off. Living in downtown Auburn, I would expect CMP to send a crew to fix it immediately, since a large number of people were affected. But it took over ten hours for CMP to bother to fix the problem, which is inexcusable. Now I fully support the workers, but I will not give any credit to CMP, who appears to have a shortage of available line crews, no matter what you CMP apologists have to say.

Jason Theriault's picture


Sorry, nope, I don't think you can fault CMP here.
First off - They have to assess the damage. What good does it do to send a line crew out if a telephone pole needs replacement.
Secondly - I'm guessing they had to cut your power to repair something. Hence why after the storm it went out.
Third - They have brought in tons of extra crews, who were here ahead of time. They didn't call them yesterday and say get here asap. They were already here, ready to go. So I don't think it's a shortage of crews, but more of a it takes time to fix stuff issue. 200,000+ households lost power. It's down to like 8,000. Thats pretty good.

Hell, you think 10 hours are bad, my parents are on two days without power, and I bet it wont be until the end of the week. They have broken poles and all sorts of a mess. Thankfully, they have a generator.

The solution is that if 10 hours is too much time for you, get a generator.

 's picture

first I don't know where you

first I don't know where you got your 8,000 customers still down, at noontime it was still over 100,000. But hey I'm going by the news media reports, not some private source.

Second damage assessment doesn't take two days.

third, it they brought in extra crews, where the heck are they, not on the roads doing repair work

If indeed they had to turn off the power to make a repair, it shouldn't have taken over ten hours. Now I'm in downtown Auburn, not in rural hicksville. Yes you live in the sticks you expect for lengthy outages and plan accordingly, but not in metropolitan areas. I survived nicely the ten hours, and would have been able to go longer, however in the city I expect more from CMP, I definitely pay for the service which I'm not receiving.

Jason Theriault's picture


Covered how I got the wrong number when i replied to myself.

That said, their nto still assessing. The assess first, then send crews out. Here is the breakdown of how it went down so far at my parents.
Tree smites power.
Fire and Police show up and close street
CMP shows up to assess
Arborist shows up to cut tree

Then a crew can come and fix stuff.

That said, how do you know it shouldn't take over 10 hours? Have you worked for a utility? I can imagine it's a mess out there, and things are going to take time. Especially if they have to replace poles. If you survived nicely for 10 hours, why are you jumping all over this? Literally, a quarter of the state lost power. Compared to 98 ice storm, CMP is cooking right now.

 's picture

I fail to understand why

I fail to understand why you're such an apologist for CMP. To compare this to the ice storm is ludicrous.
The scenario is completely different. After the ice storm limbs were constantly breaking creating new outages almost as fast as old ones were repaired. And the storms effects were not predictable, unlike this storm was completely predictable and the damage should have been anticipated by CMP. I don't know about you, but I am among the people who pay one of the highest electrical rates in the nation. CMP is making a killing and should use their vast resources to minimize storms like this. THIS WAS TOTALLY PREDICTABLE AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLANNED FOR.

Jason Theriault's picture

Do I think rates are high?

Do I think rates are high? Yup.
Do I think that has to do with some things outside of CMPs control, like decommissioning a nuclear power plant? Also yup.

BTW - You have just said that weather is totally predictable...Really? Is that really your answer?
Because, if there is one thing that is certain, it's that weather is unpredictable.

Also, while CMP brought in extra crews, remember the whole region is facing outages. Vermont, New Hampshire, Mass, NY, ect.... So call me an apologist, but it doesn't change the fact you're wrong

Jason Theriault's picture


That 8,000 was the last estimate I heard for Androscoggin county. We're at 100,000 as of this morning without power.

Allisa Milliard's picture

was that cmp customers, or is

was that cmp customers, or is that also counting bangor hydro customers (state wide outages)?

 's picture

One thing is for sure, CMP

One thing is for sure, CMP has their excuse machine running at full tilt. Their response has been miserable, people should NOT have to wait days to have their electricity restored. The main reason CMP is so lax, there is no penalty for their incompetence.

Tony Morin's picture

Fantastic Computer Chair Quarterbacking

These dudes are out there day and night repairing the damage from a hurricane/tropical storm, while you surf from the comfort of your house in your sweatpants. Give me a break. My power was out for about 24 hours. Kudos to CMP for getting it back on. I live on the left side of the political spectrum, but I have to say that your negative shtick has grown more than tiresome. You and your sparring partner are both a couple of negative Nelly's. You deserve each other.


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