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State lawmaker calls for investigation of CMP's handling of storm

With strong wind gusts in the forecast, power outages are possible. (WGME)

BOWDOINHAM (WGME) -- With strong wind gusts in the forecast, power outages are possible.

Of course, a few weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of Mainers were in the dark for days from another wind storm.

Some have been critical of CMP's response to that storm.

"It wasn't frustrating early on,” Farmer Nate Drummond said. “Obviously, we recognized it was a widespread outage."

Drummond is one of 470,000 CMP customers who lost electricity in that powerful windstorm. He says crews got power back to his barn that first weekend, but not his home.

“And then after that, we didn't actually see any other crews until Wednesday when they finally came," Drummond said.

"I don't fault the crews at all. It's the management I'm concerned about," Rep. Seth Berry said. "They said they'd have power back on Saturday. Then they said they'd have it back on Sunday. Then they appeared to think that it was back, according to the website. It wasn't."

Berry, part of the Energy, Utilities, Techonolgy Committee, says part of the problem was several smart meters failed to report outages to CMP.

"Maine homes and businesses paid for all of the costs of the Smart meter infrastructure,” Berry said. “Very expensive."

CMP admits there were problems with some Smart Meters not being able to communicate back with the company that the power was out. But CMP spokesperson Gail Rice says it had no bearing on their restoration efforts.

"We get the outage information from a broad range of sources including customer calls, the Smart metering system and also our damage assessments which are a crucial step in our storm recovery," Rice said. "When the poles go down, the devices come down as well. And they don't operate as well as they would if they were in their proper spots."

Even so, Rice feels you can't fault their recovery efforts.

"From Tuesday through Saturday, we were able to restore 97 percent of those 470,000 customer accounts," Rice said.

Rep. Berry says he wants the legislature to investigate CMP's handling of the storm, but CMP says any investigation should come from the Public Utilities Commission.

"The Maine Public Utilities Commission is best equipped to investigate and analyze our performance on this storm," Rice said.

"I would agree with her that the PUC should look at it,” Berry aid. “But absolutely, the legislature needs to look at it. We're the folks that make the laws that the PUC interprets."

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