PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Last week, a winter storm system brought snow, ice and freezing rain to Oregon — and with it, downed trees and power lines.
Although the vast majority of people have had their power restored, tens of thousands of PGE customers remain without electricity. PGE aims to restore power to 90% of customers by Friday night — that is, all but around 15,000 customers in the hardest-hit areas like Woodburn, Canby and Sublimity.
As of 9 p.m. February 19, 2021, PGE reported about 52,000 customers in 8 counties remained without power.
PGE improved its website to offer customers a better idea of where crews are working and added a new online map for customers to get more information on estimated restoration times. Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO, said the site now shows more accurate estimation times.
Officials said more than 1,100 PGE employees are working around-the-clock. Now that all the substations are operating, PGE crews are going house to house and area by area restoring power to the thousands still waiting.
“It’s like pictures you see of hurricanes in the southeast, where the system is entirely blown down,” PGE’s Steve Corson said.
Areas of Oregon are so bad, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency.
“I was down in Marion County near Silverton yesterday and talking with some of the line workers out there,” Corson said. “They told me it’s easily the worst they’ve ever seen.”
Corson says that even as they’ve restored power to more than half a million Oregonians, more outages have continued to spread.
“There’s a location where there’s just pole after pole down, transformers lying on the ground — it’s tough spot.”
Now, lineworkers are working to reinstall, remove and repair distribution lines and equipment as crews racing to restore service to most customers by Friday night.
We know you want answers — but even more than that, we know you want your power back. KOIN 6 News’ Elise Haas asked PGE if they can realistically restore power to 90% of customers today.
“It’s a tough goal, but I think we are on track for that,” Corson said. “But, it’s going to be a very long day. Remember that our crews are still working to make repairs in pretty extraordinary conditions.”
Despite the goal, 15,000 customers in the epicenter of the storm will still be without power for a while. Along with those in Woodburn, Canby and Sublimity, those 15,000 customers are in areas such as Gladstone, Milwaukie, Sellwood, Beavercreek and West Linn, as well as Silverton and its outlying areas.
PGE says restoration will take longer due to significant destruction at thousands of locations and challenges reaching the areas they need to restore.
“We don’t have a specific time frame and we understand how frustrating that is.”
Pacific Power said Friday afternoon there were only 1300 customers whose power had not been restored. Officials said they are working individually with those customers to get them back online as quickly as possible.