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EWEB Prepares for Winter Weather Year-Round

November 10, 2022

For EWEB, preparing for harsh winter storms is a year-round responsibility. While we can’t control the weather, we can make our electric infrastructure more resilient to withstand storms that bring snow, ice and wind to Eugene.

EWEB employs a full toolbox of "grid hardening" strategies, including trimming trees around power lines, replacing older equipment on a regular basis, inspecting equipment for potential problems, and practicing for widespread power outages.

Below are just a few examples of the work EWEB’s electric division does to prepare for winter weather:

Outage Response

If a widespread outage occurs, every employee at EWEB plays a role in response and restoration. From the line workers in the field to customer service agents on the phone, our staff’s ability to react and respond promptly, efficiently, and safely to a winter related emergency is crucial.

EWEB employees prepare and train for winter-related outages year-round, including practice drills that help identify gaps, develop skills, reveal resource needs, and improve internal and external coordination.

The "Blue Sky Drill" is an annual practice ahead of winter storm season. Just as we would in a real emergency event, staff activate a standardized approach to incident management during a mock winter storm scenario. Roles and teams are established for safety, planning, operations, logistics, interagency coordination, and public communication. Each team works simultaneously to coordinate and resolve issues that arise during emergency response. It enables staff to test their skills and practice working together across all departments to handle a large-scale outage restoration.

Inspection and replacement of equipment

One of our grid hardening measures during the summer months is the inspection and replacement of power pole crossarms. During high wind events, the failure of a crossarm could bring down energized power lines and potentially spark a fire. To help reduce that risk our line technician crews identify and replace older or deteriorating crossarms. We also conduct routine system maintenance to keep other electric infrastructure functioning safely and properly throughout the year. Crews regularly inspect electric lines, poles, components, and other equipment, replacing worn or older parts as needed. This work helps keep the system operating during snow, ice, and windstorms.

Vegetation Management

Winter storms and high winds can bring down distressed trees and branches on power lines that’s why we proactively prune trees and remove brush year-round to help keep the area around our equipment clear. Each year, crews trim more than 300 overhead line miles of vegetation to minimize falling trees and branches to decrease the number and duration of outages. 

Electrical Vault Maintenance A look inside EWEB's underground vault network

Have you ever wondered where the power lines are in downtown Eugene? We have a unique underground electrical network that runs downtown. Each vault is connected to others in the underground system through ducts that run high-voltage cables between transformers.

The infrastructure is highly reliable, but EWEB crews do need to clean the vaults after the fall rainwater carries leaves and debris into the man-hole access points. Before the winter cold hits, EWEB routinely pumps out the debris using vacuum trucks and simultaneously assesses the underground cables with infrared guns that detect temperature variances which may indicate a need for repair.

Fleet Preparation

Our best practices for winter preparation occur throughout the year with a goal of increasing vehicle and equipment uptime in the winter. We winterize our vehicles and prepare our drivers and crews for winter safety. EWEB safety professionals help our crews prepare for winter conditions by providing information about safe driving practices during winter months, additional supplies to be stored in vehicles, such as water, in case they get stuck in the elements, and personal clothing suited to handle inclement weather.

EWEB has prepared our electric infrastructure and staff for whatever this winter’s weather has in store, but we need your help to prepare your home and family for a winter-related emergency.

View the following pages as you prepare for the winter ahead:

Preparing your home and family for an emergency

Generator Safety

Preventing frozen pipes

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