In Short

More than 40,000 Oregon customers face potential power shutoffs amid wildfire threat

By: - September 8, 2022 2:10 pm

With the Rum Creek fire in Josephine County and others raging in Oregon and hot, dry and windy weather conditions, elecrric companies warn of power shutoffs. 2021 file photo. (Northwest Interagency Coordination Center)

UPDATED: Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022 at 9:36 p.m. with shutoff times.

Electric companies in Oregon are warning thousands of customers that they could face power shutoffs amid a forecast of hot, windy conditions at a time of extreme wildfire risk.

Portland General Electric said in a news release on Wednesday that 30,000 households in 10 areas could be affected. 

“PGE is actively monitoring conditions and will make the decision based on factors including wind speed, temperature, humidity and the dryness of trees and brush, field observations and information from local fire departments and agencies,” it said in the release. “If conditions persist, PGE aims to provide up to four hours of notice before turning off power.”

The company has nearly 1 million customers in Oregon, mostly in the Portland area and east Multnomah County. The area is urban and “home to roughly 75% of the state’s commercial and industrial activity,” PGE said.

More info

Pacific Power:

Check the company’s website for more information about the affected areas, in English and Spanish. This webpage has more information about the shutoffs and how to prepare for them.

For non-emergency information, call 888-221-7070

Portland General Electric:

Check the company’s webpage to find out whether your home or business might be affected. Customers can also call 503-228-6322, with advisers available in 200 languages.

To find out if your home or business might be affected, check PGE’s interactive map by typing in your address.

Pacific Power, which serves nearly 800,000 customers in Oregon, notified 12,500 on Thursday that they could face a shutoff starting at midnight. 

Pacific Power, which is owned by PacifiCorp, said in a news release that the timing of the shutoffs could vary, depending on conditions. 

“It is our goal to communicate estimated start times with customers Thursday evening,” the company said in a news release.

Customers in six counties served by Pacific Power were notified by text, phone calls and by email, the company said. Shutoffs could affect the following areas:

  • Douglas County: 6 a.m. Friday from Toketee Falls east to Diamond Lake, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
  • Linn County: 6 a.m. Friday from Sweet Home and east along Oregon 20, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
  • Marion County: 6 a.m. Friday from Lyons and east along Oregon 22, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
  • Lincoln County: 10 a.m. Friday
  • Tillamook County: 10 a.m. Friday
  • Polk County: 10 a.m. Friday

About 40 other electric companies serve Oregonians. Kandi Young, spokeswoman for the Public Utility Commission, which oversees the three investor-owned power companies in Oregon, PGE, Pacific Power and Idaho power, said they all monitor their systems and call shut off power to avoid a fire from electrical equipment.

“All utility customers in high-wind areas should be prepared for a potential outage,” Young said in a statement. “Because utilities in some areas may have changed their system device settings to reduce fire risk, any unplanned outages that happen due to the weather may take longer to restore.”

Several fires are burning in Oregon – and Washington – with the Rum Creek Fire in Josephine County one of the largest. It has spread to more than 21,000 acres and destroyed eight structures, including two homes, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center

Even where proactive PSPS events are not being considered, high wind conditions and wildfire events can result in outages. All utility customers in high-wind areas should be prepared for a potential outage. Because utilities in some areas may have changed their system device settings to reduce fire risk, any unplanned outages that happen due to the weather may take longer to restore.

Pacific Power is setting up two temporary resource centers, with air conditioning, restrooms, security, WiFi, charging stations, pet crates, chairs and tables and refrigeration and heating.

They will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and the same hours on Saturday, provided service is not restored by then. They will be located in:

  • Douglas County – Glide High School – 18990 N. Umpqua Highway, Glide, OR 97443
  • Marion County – Bethel Baptist Church – 645 Cleveland Street, Aumsville, OR 97325

PGE said it will also set up resource centers and would provide details in a future release.

The shutoffs are a safety measure to prevent electricity-caused fires during hazardous weather conditions, including extremely low humidity, dry vegetation, elevated levels on key weather indexes and sustained winds and gusts. 

The two companies, which are overseen by the Public Utility Commission, are required to notify customers before shutoffs.

The companies advised customers to make sure their contact information is up to date so they can be notified. 

 

 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.

MORE FROM AUTHOR