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Christmas Eve outages draw PSNH crews to Maine


PORTSMOUTH — Line crews from Public Service of New Hampshire hit the road on Christmas Eve to help crews in Maine restore power to several communities hard hit by ice storms that left many facing the prospect of a cold, dark holiday.

Tens of thousands lost power as ice up to an inch thick built up on roadways, trees and power lines in central and eastern Maine on Sunday and Monday.

Central Maine Power and Bangor Hydro Electric reported close to 100,000 customers without power at the height of the storm. By Tuesday morning, the number was down to 79,000.

A utility spokesman told the Portland Press Herald that some customers were without power on Christmas, as crews continued a “multi-day restoration effort.”

The PSNH parent company, Northeast Utilities, dispatched several dozen line trucks from its network, which also includes NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric. Nine PSNH crews left for Maine on Tuesday morning from the company’s work center at 1700 Lafayette Road, according to PSNH spokesperson Martin Murray.

Although New Hampshire and Southern Maine escaped the brunt of the storm, “Maine still is in a world of hurt,” he said.The New Hampshire contingent of 31 PSNH employees included 17 line workers, seven supervisors, damage assessors, stock handlers and a safety coordinator — all deployed to assist Central Maine Power, whose service areas in Androscoggin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, and Waldo counties were among the hardest hit areas.

The PSNH crews arrived in Augusta by mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

The company had lined up extra crews in anticipation of more outages in New Hampshire as the storm bore down on the region over the weekend.“We were well-prepared to respond,” said Murray. “The forecast seemed to indicate that conditions were ripe for significant icing in New Hampshire, but we basically escaped unscathed.”

PSNH did not experience any problems in New Hampshire until Monday, when a handful of scattered outages were reported. Normal operating conditions statewide were reported by Monday night, Murray said.

“Central Maine Power has helped us in New Hampshire during many storm restorations and we’re happy to return the favor,” said Paul Ramsey, PSNH Vice President for Energy Delivery. “We are also very grateful to our employees who took time during this holiday season to help others.”



dsolomon@unionleader.com

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