Even in historically wet, mild Oregon, summers are getting hotter and drier, with longer wildfire seasons. The overall risk of wildfires is growing. We are increasing our efforts to maintain and operate our electrical lines and equipment to minimize wildfire risk and keep our customers and community safe.
There are currently no Public Safety Power Shutoffs and our equipment is operating at normal settings.
This map is intended to show areas within the EWEB service territory where our electric lines and equipment are sited in terrain with higher potential for wildfire. These higher risk locations are preliminary, based on the Oregon Wildfire Risk Explorer map and the on-the-ground experience of EWEB system operators. EWEB will continue to refine and update the risk map as more information becomes available.
Information in this map may not align with other wildfire risk maps. The purpose of this map is to increase wildfire awareness and show where our electric lines and equipment may be placed in "protective settings" mode to reduce the risk that vegetation comes in contact with our equipment during hot, dry and windy conditions, such as Red Flag Warning events. Please use the EWEB Outage Map to view current power outage locations.
All information presented on this map is approximate and subject to change. While we do our best to ensure the quality of the information, EWEB makes no guarantee as to its accuracy, completeness or timeliness.View map
EWEB’s Board of Commissioners approved the utility’s first Wildfire Mitigation Plan during the July 5 Board meeting. The plan is designed to protect public safety, reduce risk to utility customers and promote electrical system resilience to wildfire damage.
We already have numerous, well-established programs in place for grid reliability and safety that support wildfire risk mitigation. Our new Wildfire Mitigation Plan meets the legislative requirements for Oregon electric utilities to develop risk-based wildfire mitigation plans and adopts more rigorous standards and industry best practices. These include annual vegetation management and equipment inspections in areas of higher wildfire risk. EWEB has also established procedures that make the electric system more sensitive during fire weather events so that it quickly trips off-line to reduce risk of sparking.Read the plan
We take wildfire risk seriously and we put the safety of our customers and community first.
We proactively prune trees, branches and shrubs to make sure they don't come in contact with power lines during high wind, snow or ice events. Maintaining clearance between trees and power lines helps reduce this risk. Each year, crews trim around 300 'line miles' of vegetation to minimize the chance of falling trees and branches. We inspect and prune an additional 250 'line miles' in high-risk areas such as south Eugene and the McKenzie Valley.
System inspection and maintenance
We conduct routine and proactive maintenance on more than 725 miles of overhead power lines to ensure our system is safe and reliable. We visually patrol and inspect the system and components, and replace worn or aging equipment throughout the system. Like our additional vegetation maintenance, we inspect areas with a higher risk of wildfire more frequently.
Proactive grid-hardening investments
We actively seek opportunities to replace older equipment such as power poles, crossarms and wires. In some cases, we take certain overhead distribution lines and put them underground. We are also starting to install more fire-resistant equipment, such as using ductile iron instead of wooden poles in a recently completed transmission line project in the upper McKenzie Valley.
Situational 'wildfire season' awareness
Situational awareness during fire season includes monitoring weather for high winds and low humidity, modifying field work practices to be more fire aware, bringing fire suppression equipment to every work site, and increased coordination with public safety partners when crews are working in areas with high fuel loads.
An example would be the installation of an ALERTWildfire camera on a communications tower to spot small fires before they threaten communities and infrastructure in the upper McKenzie River Valley. The camera, which is mounted on an EWEB communications tower that provides radio communication for EWEB’s Carmen-Smith hydroelectric project, provides a live feed viewable by anyone. ALERTWildfire is a project led by three universities, including the Oregon Hazards Lab at the University of Oregon, to provide cameras in wildlands that can help firefighters discover, monitor and contain wildfires.
Power line Protective Settings
When weather conditions indicate there is a high risk of wildfire, we change the protective settings on our equipment in south Eugene and the McKenzie Valley. These protective measures include modifying high-voltage electric switches and relays. Just like a circuit breaker in your home, the switch senses when trouble occurs—such as a tree branch falling on the line—and shuts off the power. We will not re-energize the line until we visually inspect it and confirm with public safety partners there is no fire in the area.
Red flag warnings
We activate this extra level of protection in areas at higher risk for wildfire when the National WeatherService issues a Red Flag Warning—typically related to high winds, high temperatures and low humidity. While enhanced protective settings help reduce wildfire risk, customers should anticipate that it will take longer to restore power when these more sensitive settings are in place.
What is a PSPS?
A Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is an operational practice EWEB may use to preemptively shut off power in certain high-risk areas to reduce wildfire risks during extreme and potentially dangerous weather conditions. A PSPS means EWEB will proactively de-energize power and is considered an action of last resort to help protect public safety.
A PSPS is a different mitigation measure than our Protective Settings operating mode. A PSPS proactively de-energizes power lines, whereas protective settings modify the sensitivity of high-voltage electric switches and relays to sense when trouble occurs and shuts off the power.
How will you be notified of a PSPS event?
Whenever possible, EWEB will notify customers approximately 48 hours in advance of a potential PSPS event and again approximately 24 hours before de-energizing lines. EWEB is also committed to providing updates during the outage and restoration process. Depending on the event, we will use a variety of communication methods, including social media, our website, direct communication via email or phone, and news media channels. Weather events and wildfire situations can be dynamic so while we will strive for 24-48 hours advance notice, this may not always be possible. For email alerts about a PSPS, sign up for our Emergency Alerts and Preparedness E-Newsletter.
How long will it last?
Several variables affect how long a PSPS might last. Power may remain de-energized for as long as the Red Flag Warning is issued or while weather conditions continue to pose a potential fire risk. While we will work to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, it’s important to be ready for power outages and to have an emergency plan.
How long before power is restored?
Once the threat of wildfire has passed, our crews will visually inspect the power lines to check for any damage or safety concerns before restoring power. As these inspections can only occur during daylight hours, customers should be prepared to be without power for an extended time during a PSPS.
Restoration will take longer than the de-energization process because crews need to visually patrol the lines to make sure equipment is safe to operate and work with our public safety partners to ensure there is no active fire in the vicinity before re-energizing power.
What about medically fragile customers?
There is no way to guarantee any home or facility will never experience an outage. That’s why we encourage customers with medical needs and facilities that care for vulnerable populations and depend on electricity for medical equipment to have a backup source of power and contingency plans in the event of an outage.
If you have, or care for someone with, significant health needs that require electricity, please let us know by calling 541-685-7000.
Just as we manage vegetation to keep trees away from power lines, it's important for you to create a line of defense around your property by clearing dead trees and brush away from your property, particularly if you live in the south hills and other heavily forested areas of our community.
When selecting a new tree to plant, follow the "Right Tree, Right Place" approach. By picking the proper species and planting procedure, you can increase public safety, reduce power outages, reduce the need for routine pruning, and promote healthy, beautiful trees.
Everyone should have a plan for how you and your family will stay safe from wildfire. During wildfire season and year-round, we encourage customers to have an emergency plan and ensure your household is ready for a prolonged power or water disruption. Check out our emergency preparedness page for tips and resources.
Check out these resources for more information on what to do before, during, and after a wildfire:
Eugene Wildfire Preparedness Coalition
Oregon State University Extension Service Fire Program
Together, we prepare. Find information about preparing your household for an emergency, and learn about EWEB's Water Reliability Initiative.
For your power outage to be recorded and put on a restoration plan, you must call our toll-free outage reporting line at 1-844-484-2300. You must complete all prompts to record your outage.