Central Maine Power Co. line workers were reporting to work with overnight bags, some Emera Maine crews from northern Maine were being staged Down East, and Time Warner Cable workers were stocking extra equipment in their trucks Monday.

All were part of last-minute preparations by utility companies bracing for an expected blizzard that could bring down wires and poles and interrupt service.

“We’ve been working on this for several days,” Gail Rice, a spokeswoman for CMP, said Monday. “As soon as it became clear there would be an impact here, we started putting our emergency plan in place.”

The storm marching up the East Coast contained both good and bad elements for keeping lights on and communications flowing in Maine. The predicted low temperatures will result in dry, powdery snow that will be less likely to bring down tree branches and power lines. But wind gusts that could reach 50 mph threaten to snap branches or blow them into power lines. Also, deep snow creates dangerous road conditions, increasing the risk of cars sliding off into utility poles and knocking out local service, utility officials said.

CMP’s preparations included calling in 215 company line workers, who are spread around the company’s service territory from Kittery, north to Jackman and east to the Belfast area. They’re responsible for 25,000 miles of power lines that connect 600,000 customers.



Line workers operate in two-person crews. They will be backed up by safety supervisors and other staff who can assess problems and damage in the field.

CMP also has about 35 contract crews on standby, including electrical contractors and tree-trimming firms with bucket trucks.

CMP belongs to the North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group, which stretches from Maine to Ohio and West Virginia and coordinates help among member utilities during severe weather.

But CMP hasn’t asked for aid from other utilities for this storm, based on the forecast for dry snow and an awareness that resources will be stretched thin in the big cities to Maine’s south.

“High winds could cause enough outages to keep our crews busy,” Rice said. “But currently, we do not expect the kind of widespread, severe damage that will take days to fix. Additionally, these other utilities are expecting their own problems, and would not be inclined to send anyone outside their own service areas at this time.”



In eastern Maine, some Emera Maine crews based in Aroostook County were being sent south and east, where the damage potential is greatest. The National Weather Service was forecasting the strongest wind along the coast in Penobscot, Hancock and Washington counties. The utility was shifting some resources to Machias and Ellsworth, said spokeswoman Susan Faloon.

Emera Maine also had contract crews on standby. In the event of widespread outages, the company also can call for help from Canadian power companies in neighboring New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia, where Emera is based. Their response, Faloon noted, would depend on the storm’s impact in the Maritimes.

Based in Bangor, Emera Maine has 154,000 customers in five counties.

Telecom and Internet providers also were gearing up for potential problems.


All of the state’s utilities participated in a conference call Monday with the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and some other state agencies and local emergency management teams in preparation for the storm, said MEMA spokeswoman Lynette Miller.


Technicians at Time Warner Cable, which provides TV and Internet service throughout much of the state, will start their shifts early throughout the storm and have been instructed to fuel their vehicles and to have extra equipment on hand, said company spokeswoman Nathalie Burgos.

Comcast spokesman Marc Goodman said the cable provider, which serves 15 communities in southern Maine, has increased staffing and lined up additional employees to work if needed.

Comcast also was preparing backup generators and other equipment to maintain power during a possible electrical outage, he said.


For FairPoint Communications, Maine’s largest telephone service provider, the storm comes during a prolonged work stoppage by 1,800 of its employees in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

The union workers, about 800 of them in Maine, went on strike Oct. 17 and the company has been struggling since then to keep up with day-to-day customer demand, state officials say. Harry Lanphear, administrative director of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, said the agency had received more than 30 complaints about FairPoint service through the end of 2014, and the vast majority were related to delays in repairs.

FairPoint spokeswoman Angelynne Beaudry said in an email that the company has implemented its standard emergency-preparedness procedures, which include making sure all systems are functioning properly, testing generators, topping off trucks with fuel, checking the quality and quantity of batteries, equipping some trailers with replacement poles to dispatch repair crews more quickly, preparing call centers to handle extra calls and, if needed, having portable generators to deploy.

FairPoint also issued a statement asking customers to be patient if they experience an outage.

“Our workforce is ready for this storm. However, we appreciate our customers’ patience during the storm and any resulting recovery efforts as our employees focus on safety, especially as road conditions and visibility worsen,” Beaudry said in the statement.

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