Utility crews were out Sunday morning on Main Street in Greenwood, where the majority of Central Maine Power customers were without power. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Central Maine Power said it has restored electric service to all but a fifth of the 230,000 customers who lost power during this weekend’s snow and windstorm.

At the height, 230,000 Mainers in CMP’s service area were without power, the utility said, and that number had been cut to 31,777 late Monday night.

David Flanagan, the company’s executive chairman, said service was expected to be restored to customers in the southern part of the state by the end of Monday, in the central portion of the utility’s service area by the end of Tuesday, and in northern and more rural parts of CMP’s territory by Wednesday.

Versant Power, which serves the northern half of Maine, said late Monday afternoon that power had been restored to all but about 2,000 of its customers and it expected to have 99 percent back online by the end of the day. Versant said damage in Milo and Brownville had been particularly severe and it might take until Tuesday to restore power in those towns.

CMP’s Flanagan said the storm was a potent mix of strong winds and heavy, wet snow, “making this one of the biggest storms, in terms of damage, of this century.”

He said CMP had 200 of its own linemen and another 850 workers from contractors or utilities in New York, Connecticut, Vermont and Quebec repairing lines. Another 525 workers were clearing trees that toppled in the storm. He said many of the workers had just completed repairs from a storm last week that knocked out power to thousands.

“I can’t give them enough credit,” he said. “They’ve been right at it since Dec. 1st.”

Flanagan said more than 100 utility poles were broken in the most recent storm, and those take a lot of time to replace, which slows restoration overall.

Many of the trees that came down were outside the 8-foot right-of-way CMP has to clear trees next to roads, Flanagan said. Large trees outside that range, he said, were tall enough to fall onto streets and take down poles and lines.

Flanagan said the Legislature has been urged in the past to expand that right-of-way, but those efforts have gone nowhere.

“If you live in a state with a lot of winter weather and a lot of trees, that will happen,” Flanagan said of the outages. “We’ll keep at this and we’ll keep pushing more and more workers” into parts of the state where power is still out.

Flanagan said the utility had crews in position before the storm rolled in Saturday. He also said that CMP stores some of its replacement parts with utilities in other states so crews coming to Maine can be outfitted with what they need before they hit the road.

CMP is responding to the COVID pandemic with lessons learned during the response to an April snowstorm, he said. Those steps include having only one crew member in a truck and having workers maintain social distancing in the field as they make repairs, he said.

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