PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The incoming ice storm means power outages are likely across the region, according to utility services.
While power providers say they have crews ready to respond, the size of the storm means residents could go without power and they urge them to be prepared.
Clark Public Utility officials are prepping kits for their workers to respond more quickly when an outage occurs. It’s well known in Clark County that the hills are always at a higher risk of a power outage — but this kind of ice storm brings the same concern down into the valley as well.
Both CPU and Pacific Power say they try throughout the summer and fall to mitigate the damage by cutting down branches or hazardous trees near power lines. They’ve also invested in sturdier power lines, but when ice and snow build up on trees, even healthy ones can break on their lines and that’s why they say people need to be prepared to go without power.
“Try as we might, trees, falling branches, falling limbs, falling entire trees are responsible for about half of the outages that we experience and that is the nature of living in such a beautiful part of the country,” said Dameon Pesanti, a spokesperson for Clark Public Utilities.
Power providers are getting crews stationed in places harder to get to in winter weather. They’re also making sure they have extra equipment in their trucks to respond to outages as quickly as possible.
“This time of year to them is winter,” said Pesanti. “For us, the other term is storm season. This is when we’re ready and geared up pretty much around the clock to deal with big rounds of storms rolling through our areas.”
Pacific Power told KOIN 6 News they already have crews in Hood River and Astoria, so they don’t have to worry about getting to those places that are easily cut off by winter weather.
“It’s not routine ever but we know how to approach a good size outage and frankly, the meteorology team helps us a lot in helping us pinpoint that,” said Pacific Power’s Tom Gauntt.
All the utility companies in the area have a mutual aid agreement to send crews to another company that needs the manpower in case outages are a bigger problem in a specific area. There are also qualified contracting crews that are brought in in case even more manpower is needed.
That’s specifically what Clark Public Utilities and Pacific Power are doing.
According to Pesanti, people reporting outages can be a huge help for crews to figure out where the fix is needed.
KOIN 6 News requested an interview with Portland General Electric to learn about its specific preparations, but the power company has declined for the last two days.
In February 2021, several neighborhoods went days without power due to a significant ice storm. Be prepared and find the latest forecast via the link above.