Despite concerns from U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin on Tuesday, the VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus campus never was without power during or after Monday’s storm.

Poliquin raised questions Tuesday after hearing the facility had requested outside power. In a news release, Poliquin called it “unacceptable” that the backup power system apparently failed.

“Although yesterday’s storms in Maine and New England wreaked havoc on the entire region and left hundreds of thousands of Mainers without power, it is unacceptable that a backup power plan at Togus would fail, if that indeed happened,” he wrote in the statement.

On Tuesday, Ryan Lilly, director of the VA facility, said the VA’s five site generators were activated when the campus lost power around 5 a.m., providing electricity to run the health center’s operations. VA officials requested a generator from the Maine Emergency Management Agency as a precaution after one of the health center’s site generators started exhibiting problems around noon Monday.

Togus also has three mobile generators, Lilly said, and one of those was tapped to take to take the place of the faltering generator. Shortly after 3 p.m., moments after the MEMA generator arrived, normal power was restored to the campus, he said, and the MEMA generator, never taken off the truck, was sent back.

“There was no impact on patient care areas,” Lilly said.


At a Maine Emergency Management Agency briefing Tuesday, officials confirmed a generator had been sent to Togus, but they were unaware of whether or how it was used.

Peter Rogers, MEMA acting director, noted at the briefing that Togus was the only hospital to request a generator.

Nearly two-thirds of Maine was left without power after the wind storm caused widespread damage Monday morning. Roughly 484,000 customers were without power at the height of the outages, far exceeding the number of outages during the historic ice storm of 1998.

Poliquin, a Republican who represents the 2nd Congressional District and is a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, asked questions about whether Togus called for “outside backup power,” whether the backup power is tested regularly and whether Togus had any “patient complications prior to” the arrival of the backup generator in his letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

Brendan Conley, Poliquin’s press secretary, said Poliquin looks forward to a “full letter” response from the VA and what caused the generator fault at Togus.

“He stands ready to assist Togus any way he can to ensure our veterans’ care, health and well being are always put first,” Conley said.


Lilly said Togus is supplied electricity by Central Maine Power Co. lines from both the Chelsea and Augusta sides of the campus. Around 5 a.m. Monday the campus lost both of those normal sources of power and turned on the generators.

“We do test all the generators monthly,” Lilly said, and the faulty generator, which served several administrative buildings and the mental health building, will be inspected.

Togus keeps a minimum of 96 hours of fuel on hand at all times, he said.

Other than the brief problem with the generator, Lilly said, the campus lost a few trees; but no damage was reported to any of the buildings. After the storm, fallen trees briefly blocked two of Togus’ three entrances, but the staff removed them.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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