CMP, power outages

State Representative Seth Berry, has said that the Public Utilities Commission report into Central Maine Power’s performance during an October 2017 storm was too easy on Maine's largest utility.

According to the report, the utility acted reasonably in its efforts to restore power. The PUC has however, recommended that the company makes changes as to how it provides information and updates to customers.

According to the report: “The preparation for and response to the storm by CMP and Emera Maine were reasonable. The October storm did, however, reveal areas for improvement, including with respect to coordination and communication, as well as the accuracy of outage and restoration time information provided to customers.”

Customers were left without power following the storm and CMP's website often reported incorrect information regarding the outages and when the power would be restored.

The company said last week that “the smart meter system gave us excellent data on the scope of damage and as repairs progressed, it allowed us to confirm restoration more efficiently.

Berry took issue and responded to the report saying: “I agree with parts of it, I disagree with other parts. I think it’s not incorrect in its facts, but I think some of its conclusions are a little soft on CMP.”

“CMP needs to level with us, admit mistakes, and keep their story straight if they are ever going to rebuild trust with Maine people,” Berry said.

The House chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology asked: “How can we believe them when their story flip-flops every few months?”

CMP responded saying that the smart meter technology gave it more information about the scope of storm damage than during previous storms when it didn’t have them in place.

According to Berry, however, CMP spokespeople have said at various points over the past year that the smart meter system had “flatlined” leaving the company “flying blind” in its response efforts.

“CMP has reported to my commission and to the PUC at the height of the outage only 48% of their AMI was actually [operational],” said Berry, “and that’s in the entire territory, much of which wasn’t hit badly by the storm.”

“When meters stop communicating with us, that is a very clear indication that power is out at that meter location,” CMP responded. “That is crucial information to have as we mobilize crews to respond.

“We had more and better information, and we had it earlier during the October storm, thanks to the smart meters and related equipment.”

CMP has further said that it is working on strengthening the resilience of its smart metering system, wiring its smart meter network with backup generators, increasing the number of emergency mobile generators and enhancing its ability to make minor repairs to smart meter equipment.

“Combined with other planned enhancements to the system, CMP expects these measures to markedly improve smart meter network visibility during a major storm or outage event,” said a company statement.