Nina Rain

The impact of the power outage in Bar Harbor on business

Bar port – For local businesses, especially restaurants that operate during the short and busy summer season, every meal sold counts. But blackouts on July 26 and July 28 left businesses in and around Cottage Street with no choice but to close for the evening.

Bar Harbor restaurateurs, some without power and others with partial salad, were disappointed to refuse to serve dinner during each incident, both of which lasted nearly two hours.

Thirsty Whale’s restaurant was forced to close one day at around 5:15 p.m., and again two days later at around 6 p.m., owner Heather Sorokin said she had to send workers home during the peak season

“Whenever there is an outage in our kitchen, we have to turn off all the equipment because the hood is not working, so even if the power comes back in an hour and a half, the kitchen equipment has to come back to temperature,” she said. Although it’s a financial blow, Sorokin said it would be It’s OK, but she’s worried about other nearby restaurants that also need to absorb the losses.

On Route 66, staff served cold salads and sandwiches until closing, despite the restaurant’s complete blackout. During the power outage without a kitchen, manager Heather Winkler said the staff did their best to serve as many guests as possible. “There is no energizing force for business, and something definitely needs to be done about it,” said Winkler, who has directed hungry people to other restaurants with salads.

Companies with generators have been able to stay open and gain traction. For Graffiti Donuts & Coffee, The Loft Raw Bar, Seafood Lounge, and Testa’s Bar & Grill, along with a few others, it was business as usual.

Despite many avid customers in a restaurant that was powered by a generator and a propane stove, Christopher Kimna, director of Tom Testa Bayside Landing restaurants, said staff were able to scramble to stay open. Kimna said getting electricity attracted massive influxes of customers, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

The cut-offs extended from the corner of Mount Desert Street and Main Street to Cottage Street and Kibo Street.

Judy Long, Versant Power’s director of communications, said the company is aware of the issue and is working to resolve it. “Sometimes things happen, and while we are certainly sensitive to Bar Harbor business owners, all equipment is designed to prevent damage from load imbalance by shutting down service to protect the entire system,” she said.

According to Long, the marked increase in the amount of energy used in the downtown area affected the balancing of service loads. With summer utility usage rising and natural gas prices increasingly high, she said there is greater demand for electricity.

“Our teams have started doing a load study on the circuit, and in the meantime, our line crews have taken steps to mitigate the problem in the short term by putting in some additional equipment,” she said.

As the teams continue their study, Long said the company will then decide whether a long-term solution is needed. However, in 2016, a state-of-the-art electrical substation was set up on Eden Street to manage these types of issues.

Reliable electricity is more important than ever as businesses and individuals transition to new electric-powered technologies, said Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Alf Anderson. He said that Bar Harbor’s hospitality businesses, and their employees, find success when they can generate enough revenue during the summer tourism season to last the entire year.

“Even a small outage can have a huge impact on the company and its employees,” Anderson said.

Ninah Rein, a native of MDI, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is happy to return to Maine after earning her bachelor’s degree in San Diego from the University of California.

Nina Rain

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