BANGOR, Maine — Maine electrical utility crews are headed to Connecticut, Rhode Island and possibly other points south to help restore power to thousands of people who have been without it since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast earlier this week.
Bangor Hydro Electric Co. and Maine Public Service Co. repair crews left for Kingston, R.I., on Thursday to help assist National Grid with power restoration efforts. A subset of that group is expected to head farther south.
Meanwhile, Central Maine Power Co. deployed 28 two-man line repair crews and bucket trucks — plus additional support personnel and equipment — to Connecticut to help restore service for customers of Connecticut Light and Power.
Bangor Hydro participates in the Northeast Mutual Aid Group (NEMAG) that is composed of more than 20 utilities across the Northeastern U.S. and Canada. That group works collaboratively to determine the needs and available resources, and then matches them up to result in the greatest overall good.
“In the wake of a natural disaster, member utility representatives host daily conference calls to coordinate equipment and crew mobilization,” said Lisa Martin, manager of Line and Meter Operations at Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service, both Emera-owned companies. “As a result of a NEMAG call last night, seven Bangor Hydro crews and two Maine Public crews as well as several mechanics and supervisors were assigned to National Grid.”
Once power has been restored in Rhode Island, decisions will be made about whether the Bangor Hydro and Maine Service crews will be sent on to assist in other areas severely damaged by the storm.
“We must consider our commitments to our customers in Maine when determining the number of crews we will send out of state and believe we have an adequate balance to meet both needs at this time,” Martin said.
The mutual aid effort comes after the Maine utilities restored power to storm-struck customers in their own service areas.
CMP dealt with an estimated 165,000 outages as a result of the storm, an effort completed within less than three days. Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service had a combined 6,500 outages in their service territories and restored power to their customers within about 24 hours.
“Other companies from around New England and Canada have helped us recover from big storms,” CMP President Sara Burns said.
“We faced more than 165,000 outages ourselves so we know how tough conditions like that can be on utility workers and their customers,” she said. “I believe it’s important for utility companies to help their neighbors.”