WELD — Central Maine Power Co. representatives and county officials attended the Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday to address a spate of issues regarding power outages and downed lines this fall.

Among the problems, everyone agreed, was communication.

In one instance, a line was down across Route 156 for several days in October, according to board Chairman Thomas Skolfield.

The road was blocked and students had to be sent through Dixfield to get to school in Wilton and Farmington, he said.

“A CMP truck was seen going over it,” Skolfield said. “There seems to be a lack of communication between us and the county. What can we do to make it better?

“Losing power in midwinter, when it’s minus 20, seriously impacts people.”

David Dufour, CMP’s manager of regional operations, said there were two problems with the situation with the downed line. While the problem had been reported, it did not get elevated to a higher level. A relatively new employee was also involved.

“He rode over the line,” Dufour said. “He shouldn’t have left the scene. While it got reported, it was not (reported) as an emergency.”

Skolfield also wanted information on how electricity is delivered to Weld and dispersed. He wondered how power at his house on Route 142, heading towards Phillips, can be on all the time, while houses across the road can be off for a week.

Kevin Guimond, emergency preparedness manager for CMP, shared information about a new emergency services restoration plan that is based on the incident command system. It sets parameters that allow for a more efficient and consistent planning process.

Guimond said he has been meeting with county emergency management agencies and fire departments to discuss the new plan. A meeting was held in Farmington on Oct. 16.

“Every time we walk away with positive results,” he said. “In the Oct. 17 storm, we had more than 230,000 customers out. We’re now prestaging. Four or five years ago we waited until a storm hit.”

Guimond said the new smart meters show where outages are on a Maine map, but doesn’t show where roads are blocked or closed. That is where the county EMAs and fire chiefs come in.

Franklin County Deputy EMA Director Amanda Simoneau said fire chiefs or town officials should contact the EMA to let them know of trees on lines or similar situations.

Weld Fire Chief Corey Hutchinson said he was not able to attend the Oct. 16 meeting to learn of the new system.

Franklin County EMA Director Tim Hardy said going forward he would include town officials and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in group informational emails that are sent out.

Dufour said an arborist from Farmington will be going over the lines into Weld in the next couple of weeks looking for diseased trees or ones damaged that haven’t come down yet.

“We’re limited to how far we can go,” Dufour said. “He may be contacting landowners to see if we can do some things on trees (outside our limits).”

Dufour said CMP is also considering a new system to transmit power.

“Underground is too costly,” he said. “We’re looking at changing to all covered wires. Small trees can sit on the lines for a time. A line down is still energized. It’s a trade off.”


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