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Regulators Call Utilities’ Response To October 2017 Windstorm ‘Reasonable’

Abukar Adan
Maine Public/file
A broken pole and downed wires lie across a street in Yarmouth, seen Nov. 1, 2017.

State regulators say the response by Maine’s major electric utilities to last October’s windstorm was reasonable, after investigating the utilities’ reaction to the storm, which left as many as 467,000 customers without power.

Maine Public Utilities Commission chairman Mark Vannoy says that given a weather forecast that underestimated the wallop Maine would take, Central Maine Power and Emera made the right moves — mostly.

“When you have a bad forecast and expected maybe 50,000 outages and you ended up with 400,000 outages, then you’ve got to adapt and respond. And the adaption and response was I think, again reasonable,” he says.

The commission is calling for the utilities to report back on plans to address some weaknesses revealed by the storm, including the performance of so-called smart meters that failed during the storm, improving customer access to outage and restoration updates and improving coordination with emergency management agencies to ensure that public health hazards are addressed as quickly as possible.

CMP says it is already working on those issues.

“We have implemented some measures to increase the resiliency of our advanced metering infrastructure communications network. We’ve had many meetings with county and state emergency management personnel, municipal officials and also some telecommunications companies so we can improve coordination during major storms events,” says CMP spokesperson Gail Rice.