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
Start the New Year saving money with energy saving tips
We know that saving money is important to our customers. Using energy and water wisely is a great way to reduce your monthly utility bill, even as the costs of electricity and water rise. EWEB has several steps you can take to reduce your usage and even make your home feel more comfortable.Find Out More
Currin Substation: End of year update
EWEB Engineer Philip Peterson explains what's been happening in the final stretch to complete the substation rebuild.Find Out More
EWEB Recognized with Excellence in Communications Awards from American Public Power Association
We are proud to have been recognized with two Excellence in Public Power Communications Awards for 2023 from the American Public Power Association (APPA).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 now offering a Smart Thermostat rebate program
EWEB is excited to announce a new residential rebate program to provide electric customers with free or greatly discounted Smart Thermostats to customers whose primary source of heating is from an electric forced-air furnace or heat pump.Find Out More
Your EWEB Rates at Work: Investing Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
For more than a century, EWEB has planned, built, and maintained the systems that deliver safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible power and water to Eugene homes and businesses.Find Out More
Have an energy efficient and water conscious holiday season
The holiday season is officially upon us. Whether you are celebrating a special holiday or just sharing a meal with close friends and family, hosting can cause some unexpected energy and water usage increases – resulting in a higher utility bill. We’ve prepared some tips on how you can save energy and water this holiday season.Find Out More
River Road Substation returns to service after infrastructure upgrades
Supply chain shortages and proactive infrastructure investments, including constructing seismic foundations and implementing control modernization, have played a role in the substation's return-to-service timeline.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
The importance of managed electric vehicle charging explained
EWEB has much to handle related to EV charging infrastructure. To ensure that the switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles reduces the most emissions possible at the lowest cost possible, we need to implement managed EV charging.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
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Could a Texas-like Power Crisis Happen Here?
February 22, 2021
The energy crisis in Texas has grabbed the attention of the nation. As Texas struggles to restore electricity to millions, locals may be wondering if a similar crisis could happen here, and what utility operators and individuals can do to prepare for unprecedented weather events.
Is EWEB prepared for a major winter storm?
While no utility can be 100 percent prepared for a major disaster, we have worked hard to prepare for winter storms. After the 2016 ice storm that knocked out power for more than 20,000 EWEB customers for multiple days, we took several steps to "harden" the electric system. We completed more than a dozen reliability projects that involved removing crossarms, reconfiguring older overhead power lines with new, higher-capacity cable that requires only one wire, and converting some lines from overhead to underground.
To help prevent tree-related outages, we trim around 300 line miles of vegetation annually.
Other major investments include our new Holden Creek Substation and improving transmission lines that enable us to move power from local generating resources to critical facilities, such as hospitals and public safety agencies, in an emergency.
While many tend to focus on electric outages, there is also a risk of water service disruption in an emergency. Again, EWEB has been working for several years on water reliability projects including renovating the Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant, replacing water mains, and developing neighborhood emergency water stations. We now have five operational emergency water sites throughout Eugene and two additional sites are planned.
How are the power outages in Texas different from the weather-related outages that were happening at the same time here in Oregon?
The recent outages in Portland and Salem were caused by ice bringing down trees and powerlines, similar to what happened in Eugene in 2016. In Texas, the power outages were caused by supply issues. In other words, here in Oregon, utilities had power available, but because poles and lines were down, they couldn't deliver the electricity to homes and businesses. In Texas, they didn't have enough power to meet the demand.
Why didn't Texas have enough power?
In a nutshell, the demand for power was greater than the supply. The unprecedented cold temperatures caused residents to crank up electric heaters. At the same time, freezing temperatures crippled many of the state's power plants.
What are some key differences between the Texas grid and power supply compared to Oregon?
From a supply perspective, both states have a diverse resource mix, but Oregon has a great deal more hydro generation. The key difference is the design of our respective power grids. Texas' electric grid is fairly isolated from the rest of the country. In Oregon, we are part of the Western grid, which connects 11 states plus the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The interconnection of the western grid not only provides diverse resources (hydro, wind, solar and more) but also allows utilities to share power across a vast transmission system to help balance supply and demand.
If a statewide deep freeze was the downfall of the Texas grid, what kind of extreme natural event(s) could throw our local grid into crisis?
West coast heat and dry conditions are problems for the western grid. Hot, dry conditions can not only create peak demand events that tax the grid but also can spark wildfires. In California, blackouts have become a common occurrence due to wildfire risk. Here in Oregon, Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) could become more common as climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events.
Could extreme weather events affect the availability of power for EWEB customers?
Possibly. With our wealth of hydroelectric sources and an interconnected grid across the west, EWEB customers have been relatively well-protected from widespread power shortages, even during surges in demand. However, the climate crisis is likely to create longer, hotter summers and reduced snowpack, limiting the power generation of northwest hydro. Western coal plant retirements could exacerbate the problem. Replacing coal while maintaining reliability may require a combination of renewable resources and an economic source of firm capacity, such as natural gas.
What are EWEB and other utilities doing to prepare the grid?
Here in the northwest, EWEB is part of an organized effort involving multiple utilities to ensure that collectively we have adequate power resources and reliable systems across the region. At the same time, there are many proactive steps being taken across the west to decarbonize the grid while improving resiliency, including adding capacity, coordinating markets, and increasing transmission flexibility. However, these changes will bring additional costs and we must find the balance point between resiliency and overall cost. The purpose of EWEB's Electricity Supply Planning work is to understand tradeoffs and make smart investment choices given future uncertainty.
How can EWEB customers contribute to a more stable, resilient grid?
Improving the overall energy efficiency of your home is critical. Homes with efficient heating systems and good insulation use less energy, which can be important in extreme weather events. Using less electricity during peak usage times can also benefit our local grid and power resources. Shifting energy use to "off-peak" can be as simple as running the dishwasher, charging your electric car, or doing the laundry later at night (after 9 p.m.) or mid-day (between noon and 5 p.m.). EWEB offers rebates and loans for your home or rental property that can help offset the upfront cost to upgrade windows, insulation, and appliances.
What else can customers do to prepare for a prolonged power outage?
Emergencies can happen at any time and it's important to prepare. Create an emergency kit with several days of food, water, cash, fuel, and other essentials. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to be prepared to be on their own for a minimum of two weeks. Having a well-insulated home can also help keep you safe and comfortable for a longer period of time in the event of a prolonged outage. Find more emergency preparedness tips and sign up for EWEB's Pledge to Prepare.