AUGUSTA — Central Maine Power has been clearing debris and downed wires across its service territory this morning, April 10, and is working to restore more than 200,000 customer outages, a midday news release said.
Coordinating with state, county and local emergency management officials, CMP has focused on ensuring all hospitals and critical care facilities have power, the release noted.
The company is advising that given the extensive scale of outages, customers should be prepared to be without power for a couple of days and as always, directs the public never to get near a downed power line.
Thousands of outages have occurred across all counties within CMP’s service area, with the exception of York County.
“We knew a couple of days ago that the heavy wet snow and the coastal winds could cause large numbers of outages across the state and knowing that Mainers are under a shelter in place order we began spreading the message to our customers that they should be prepared to be without power for a lengthy period,” said Doug Herling, president and CEO of CMP. “In light of the pandemic we are making sure all medical and critical care facilities have power and we will work as quickly and safely as we can to restore power for all.”
In addition to internal crews, CMP has over 230 contracted line crews and crews from sister companies as well as 150 tree crews assisting in the clearing and restoration effort today and is expecting more crews to join the restoration work later Friday. The company asks that for the health and safety of the working crews and the public that customers not approach lineworkers on work sites.
In light of the COVID -19 pandemic the company is also directing lineworkers and field staff to take all appropriate precautions including:
• Limiting one employee per vehicle travelling to field locations
• Working in separate teams to minimize contact
• Restricting visitor access to company facilities
• Entering a customer residence only in the event of emergency and after assessing risk
• Maintaining appropriate physical distancing in the field
CMP advises customers to use online tools, accessible at cmpco.com to report and monitor outages.
To ease the financial impact of the pandemic, CMP announced that it is suspending late payment and customer reconnection charges for all customers and has extended eligibility protections to customers participating in certain payment plans.
• CMP follows an orderly process when restoring service that emphasizes safety and seeks to make effective use of resources.
• CMP’s immediate concern after a storm is public safety. Restoration teams work with towns and the state to de-energize downed lines, clear roads and restore previously identified critical facilities such as hospitals and shelters.
• Next, CMP focuses on assessing damage and repairing the backbone of the electrical system: substations, transmission lines, circuits and primary lines. Crews focus on locations where they can restore large numbers of customers at once.
• Then, crews restore equipment and lines that serve smaller groups of customers.
• Finally, crews focus on restoring remaining service lines to individual homes and buildings until every customer has service. This phase may begin while higher-priority work is already underway.
If you lose service:
• To report an outage, visit Outage Central at cmpco.com. Customers may also report an outage using CMP’s 24/7 automated phone system at 800.696.1000.
• Keep sensitive electronic appliances such as computers, TVs and stereos plugged into a surge protector, or unplug them. They could be damaged if a power surge occurs when electricity is restored.
• Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. For information about food safety, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html.
• Never use a stove or oven, or an outdoor grill or heater, as an indoor space heater to stay warm. Only use space heaters intended for indoor use inside or in enclosed spaces, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are unable to keep your home safely heated, call Maine 211 for resources.
For customers with generators:
• Hire a licensed electrician to install permanent generators and transfer switches.
• Properly ground all portable generators.
• Carefully read and observe all instructions in your generator’s operating manual.
• Never run a generator indoors, or even in an open garage.
• If your carbon monoxide detector goes off – get out of the building immediately and call 911.
• Do not store fuel indoors or try to refuel a generator while it’s running.
• Refer to CMP’s web page on generator safety