Nine days without power: My ice storm story as an EWEB customer and employee
While beautiful and peaceful, buying a home on the edge of the forest and surrounded by trees has its tradeoffs. Moving “upriver,” I knew there would be more threats to prepare for, including Mother Nature’s seasonal surprises.Find Out More
Preparation and Resilience: How EWEB Maintained Water Service During Recent Ice Storm
Learn about the projects and people that helped EWEB keep water flowing throughout the extreme weather event.Find Out More
EWEB crews focusing on restoring electric service for Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant
With more ice forecasted for Tuesday, all EWEB crews are in the field assessing outages and restoring power.Find Out More
Leaburg Decommissioning Action Plan
Plan details next steps through regulatory processes to begin dismantling Leaburg Dam by 2032.Find Out More
What’s ahead in 2024: General manager’s message to EWEB customer-owners
At the start of the new year, we back at accomplishments from 2023 and look ahead at what's to come in 2024.Find Out More
EWEB 2023 year in review
In 2023, EWEB invested in our community with grants, rebates and an array of other programs and measures aimed at fulfilling our core values of safety, reliability, affordability, environmental responsibility and community/culture.Find Out More
Let's talk turkey. If a disaster strikes, is your family ready?
Many of us avoid discussing politics over the dinner table in the spirit of family peace and harmony. But here's a topic that can bring everyone together: emergency preparedness.Find Out More
EWEB To Hold First of Two Public Hearings on Proposed 2024 Budget and Prices
At the Nov. 7 Board of Commissioners meeting, EWEB staff will present a proposed budget that includes rate increases necessary to support utility operations and make needed infrastructure investments.Find Out More
Public Power Week Poster Contest Winners 2023
The results are in! View the winning posters from EWEB's 2023 Public Power Week Poster Contest.Find Out More
EWEB’s water infrastructure projects designed for reliability during major disasters
As communities nationwide Imagine a Day Without Water, EWEB strives to ensure such a day never happens.Find Out More
Fall is the perfect time to prepare for winter storm season
Winter is coming, which increases the likelihood of storm-related power outages. It's important to be prepared, and there are simple actions you can take right now.Find Out More
As prices increase, what can you do to take control of monthly utility bills?
EWEB’s Board of Commissioners is considering rate changes in 2024. Here are some ways to save money and manage your bill, and how EWEB can help.Find Out More
EWEB programs reflect community values
EWEB is here to serve our customer-owners and provides programs that reflect the values of our community.Find Out More
EWEB Prepares for the Annual Observance of "Imagine a Day Without Water"
Water infrastructure is essential, invaluable, and in need of continuous investment. Read how EWEB's Staff and Board of Commissioners are working to safeguard Eugene's water future.Find Out More
Rate Setting Process is Customer Driven and Community Focused
EWEB’s Board of Commissioners is considering rate changes to help maintain reliable utility services and fund critical investments in Eugene’s water and electric infrastructure.Find Out More
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Commissioners Approve Utility’s First Wildfire Mitigation Plan Strengthening Wildfire Resiliency
July 08, 2022
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.
“I really appreciate that we are going above and beyond what is required of us. We often tend to be a leader in proactive planning and it’s exciting to see us continue with that momentum here,” said Mindy Schlossberg, EWEB commissioner at-large.
Action on Wildfire Risk
In recent years the convergence of complex issues is making wildland fire activity more dangerous and destructive than in the past. These factors include increased vegetative fuel loads from decades of fire suppression activities, more development in the wildland/urban fringe and the rising frequency of erratic climate patterns such as drought, extreme heat, and severe storms. While most wildfires ignite from either a natural cause such as lightning strikes or human actions, we recognize utilities have a role to play in the mitigation of wildfire risks.
EWEB’s 2022 budget allocates $1 million towards various wildfire risk mitigation activities. These actions fall within five main components for a comprehensive approach to wildfire prevention and response:
- Year-Round System Maintenance – robust design standards and equipment inspections
- Vegetation Management – vegetation removal and tree trimming for clearance around electrical equipment and fire-fuel reduction projects within high-risk fire zones
- Targeted Grid Hardening Investments – infrastructure projects that improve reliability and have wildfire mitigation co-benefits such as use of fire-resistant equipment and construction methods
- Wildfire Season Situational Awareness – operational practices, tools, and monitoring of weather conditions to inform field activities and utility response. (For example, the ALERTWildfire camera recently installed on an EWEB communications tower near the Carmen-Smith hydroelectric project.
- Real Time Response - changes to electric system operational settings during Red Flag Warnings to reduce the risk of ignition, up to and including de-energizing lines.
What is a Red Flag Warning?
In our Wildfire Mitigation Plan, immediate operational response is enacted during Red Flag Warnings through our 24/7 Dispatch Center. A Red Flag Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when warm temperatures, very low humidity, and strong winds are expected to combine to raise fire risks. For example, a heightened risk of a lightning storm.
To decrease the risk that EWEB powerlines become a potential ignition point, we change the protective settings on our equipment during a Red Flag Warning. These protective measures include modifying high-voltage electric switches and relays. Just like a circuit breaker in your home, the switch can sense when trouble occurs, such as a tree branch falling on the line and shuts off the power. Turning up the sensitivity in protective settings mode to reduce the potential of sparking a fire may increase the chance of a power outage. We encourage our customers to be ready year-round, have an emergency plan (and supplies) in place, and ensure preparedness for a prolonged power or water disruption – whether caused by snow, ice, wind, or wildfire.
“A big part of this plan is communicating information about red flag events effectively with the community and letting customers know a red flag event does not necessarily mean we’re shutting off the power,” said John Barofsky, EWEB Commissioner (Wards 2 & 3).
Building upon Community Engagement and Preparedness
The plan builds on EWEB’s strong foundation of increasing public safety through effective public outreach on resiliency and emergency preparedness, such as the Pledge to Prepare and water reliability initiatives. As part of this effort, we’ve outlined specific messaging and imagery for Red Flag Warnings to alert the public of heightened wildfire potential and the changes EWEB would implement on the electric system to reduce wildfire risk. Already, we have a dedicated webpage for Wildfire Safety and Prevention on our website and a Higher Wildfire Risk Area map to help customers determine if their residence is within an area where protective settings may be put in place.
Now we will continue to refine our wildfire risk resources for public awareness, education, and preparedness. A targeted outreach effort to prepare the medically fragile and other vulnerable communities for potential loss of power will be addressed in future iterations of the Wildfire Mitigation Plan. As an initial step, we encourage customers to update their contact information and alert EWEB of any life-sustaining medical equipment needs.
Aligning with EWEB’s Core Values
Our new Board-approved plan not only exceeds compliance requirements, but also aligns with several EWEB strategic priorities, policy objectives and core values. The safety of our workforce and community is our first core value and fundamentally drives how we deliver essential utility services to the public we serve. EWEB’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan strengthens our emergency response protocols and builds on our robust public engagement around emergency preparedness and safety.
EWEB is committed to adapting its strategies as risk assessment models and technologies mature, and in response to emerging best practices, and changing environmental conditions.