June 05, 2020

Dead tree breaks power supply line causing loss of electrical service

MACHIAS — Monday’s ice storm may have contributed to the cause of a power failure that left several towns in darkness, provided only low voltage electricity, and resulted in the loss of cable television reception.

Val Deschene, a line superintendent for the Washington County Division of Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., said a tree on Old County Road in East Machias leaned on a 35,000-kilowatt transmission line and caused the line to be extensively damaged. The tree was thought to have been killed earlier by spruce budworm.

Because the transmission line was a major power line running from the Washington County substation at Jonesboro to Eastport, several communities from Machias to Eastport experienced reduced power or a complete loss of power for about 30 to 45 minutes. Sections of some communities, including Machias, experienced blackouts and brownouts.

Deschene said the company’s diesel-powered electric station at Eastport was brought into service to restore power in some mmunicipalities quickly, especially in the Quoddy Bay area.

His decision to place the entire transmission line temporarily out of service at about 7:30 p.m. Monday was made to ensure safety. He learned that the line had become entangled in the undercarriage of a cable television repairman’s service van.

David Keezer, driver of the Pine Tree Cablevision van, had driven into the access road to check his company’s transmission tower on Scotts Hill Road. He was unaware that the burned power line was already lying in the tower’s access road, until the line tangled under the van.

The wire remained tangled under the van until the line was taken out of service at Jonesboro and Deschene’s line repair crew had removed the line. A spokesman for Pine Tree Cablevision said Keezer was not injured.

The supervisor and his crews completed the repair job at about 2 a.m., although they restored power to the area before 8:30 p.m.

Pine Tree reported that its transmission system was not returned to service until about 8 a.m. Tuesday.

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