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Businesses take steps to ensure water, power stay on

By Christine Simmonds | Mar 24, 2020
Photo by: Catt Liu

Central Maine Power and Maine Water are taking many precautions to ensure that water and power stay on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both CMP and Maine Water are following social distancing guidelines and other recommendations from the CDC, homeland security and Gov. Mills.

Catherine Hartnett, manager of corporate communications for CMP said March 24 that the company is taking all recommended precautions and has set up “special conditions” to ensure the safety of employees who serve customers directly.

CMP is taking measures to keep folks distant, and split field crews into two teams. Steps have been taken to limit contact between the two crews, so there will be no accidental cross-contamination if a member of one crew becomes ill.

Rick Knowlton, president of Maine Water, said March 24 his company is also taking extra precautions to ensure nobody loses water during this time.

“Water is essential,” Knowlton said. “We have no intent of compromising our service.”

“We are keeping employees separated, even at treatment plants and the office,” said Knowlton. “We are absolutely following social distancing requirements and rules.”

Both companies closed all buildings to the public and are asking customers to connect with them online, by mail or by phone.

CMP has “hundreds of employees working from home,” Hartnett said.

Maine Water is dispatching individuals from home for service calls, according to Knowlton, and has many employees working from home.

“Some are on call and responding from home and others are on the job, and we shift those schedules around,” he said. “We are making sure that we have a plan that is sustainable as we look ahead into this unknown period of time.”

Both companies have taken steps to ensure the health of their employees.

“We have rented over a hundred vehicles so that we can have our employees travel individually to job sites,” Hartnett said. “When they arrive at the job sites they take precautions to distance themselves.”

Knowlton said Maine Water also has one truck for each technician to keep employees separated.

Maine Water also reduced the standard work it does in terms of replacing water meters and is postponing “non-essential service orders or work,” to minimize interactions with the public.

Knowlton said the company had isolated essential employees from their colleagues.

Hartnett also said CMP has crews patrolling all of the circuits that serve “critical facilities” like “hospitals, urgent care facilities, nursing homes and food distribution centers,” looking for and removing overhanging branches and anything else that could potentially cause a power outage.

“We’ll be there to do everything we can,” she said.

Knowlton said Maine Water has created an emergency operations center in Maine for its employees, and has introduced new policies and procedures about social distancing so employees will be available to keep the water on.

He said Maine Water is “in response mode” for customers who are having an emergency or in need of help maintaining water service.

On the financial side, Knowlton said the company has suspended disconnecting people. “People need water during this time,” he said, and Maine Water is happy to work with customers who may have a challenge paying their water bill.

This is in compliance with the direction from Maine’s Public Utilities Commission that no utilities will be disconnected during the state of emergency declared by  Mills.

“We will continue to serve right through this crisis so folks can continue to enjoy our service,” Knowlton said.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 25, 2020 14:11

Kudos to the employees who service so faithfully the public in such a crisis time. God Bless!

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