Line crews may not have time to restore electricity to the more than 20,000 Mainers still without power from last week’s nor’easter as another storm Monday brings heavy rain and gusts of up to 60 mph.
The National Weather Service said in advisories that the strong winds may blow down limbs, trees and powerlines that could cause widespread new power outages along the coast and scattered outages in interior regions as Mainers increasingly stay home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Maine’s two largest utilities plan to keep line crews working to restore service. But the high winds can hamper restoration efforts, spokespeople for Central Maine Power and Emera Maine said on Monday.
CMP is contending with more than 170 poles that need to be reset, said spokesperson Catharine Hartnett, while the company is making employees travel one person per vehicle and reminding them to stay apart from each other due to the virus.
She said CMP brought in 435 line crews from independent contractors and other utilities since last Thursday to supplement its own 100 crews of two people. Some of them have been recalled to work for their own companies.
As of Monday, CMP has its own crews plus 210 contractor crews and 129 tree crews. There have been about 2,000 employees in the field and in planning areas of CMP working to restore power since Thursday night, Hartnett said.
“The lineworkers work 17 hours and rest 7,” she said. “Many areas they are working in are muddy, wet and challenging to reach, so we are taking the time to access these areas safely.”
Emera Maine crews do not work in bucket trucks to restore service when gusts exceed 40 mph, said Judy Long, a spokesperson for the utility.
Long said the utility is focusing on “every other type of work that can be done.” She said there are 80 total crews, including tree and pole-setting workers, in the field for the utility on Monday. Each crew has two workers.
During Friday’s storm, Emera Maine redirected contractors working on its electrical system to help with storm restoration. It also got crews from Unitil, a New Hampshire utility, but they returned home Monday to contend with the new storm. Emera Maine also tapped 24 crews from Canada that still are working. Long said Emera Maine continues to explore other resources.