PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland General Electric crews continued to work day and night to restore power to the thousands of people still affected by a wicked winter storm that hit the area beginning February 11.
Although the vast majority of people have had their power restored, tens of thousands of PGE customers remain without electricity.
Officials with Clackamas County and the Oregon National Guard are partnering to go door to door to conduct welfare checks on residents affected by the winter storm and ongoing power outages on Saturday and Sunday. Marion County officials said guard members may start helping as early as Monday morning.
As of 3 p.m. February 20, 2021, PGE reported about 40,000 customers in 8 counties remained without power.
“This number reflects ongoing restoration challenges, including discovery of both more extensive damage to our equipment than expected as well as previously assessed damage, as were finally able to access additional areas,” PGE said in a statement Saturday.
Since the beginning of the storm, PGE has restored power to more than 650,000 customers.
PGE had hoped to have power back to all but 15,000 customers by Friday night but the utility discovered additional damage after it reached previously inaccessible areas. The worst ice storm in 40 years knocked out power to more than 350,000 residents at its peak and killed five people.
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.
“As we neared completion of transmission lines to the areas reaching from Colton to North Marion to Salem to Oregon City, additional falling trees and limbs into those lines meant that the restoration efforts took a significant step backwards – delaying restoration to 25 the associated substations,” said PGE Saturday.
Areas of Oregon are so bad, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency.
“I was down in Marion County near Silverton (on Thursday) 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 said that even as they’ve restored power to more than 600,000 Oregonians, more outages have continued to spread.
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.
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 said 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.”