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EWEB estimates one week to complete power system restoration

January 18, 2024 Aaron Orlowski, EWEB Communications

EWEB estimates that it will take crews one week from Thursday to complete restoration of the power system.

At the same time, EWEB crews made significant progress Wednesday, restoring power for about 10,000 customers by repairing large equipment first. And, Thursday, as of about 5 p.m., they had restored another 5,100 customers. More restorations are occurring all the time.

A large majority of customers are likely to see their power restored far sooner than one week, but some customers may still be without power for up to a week. A small number of customers in areas with difficult repairs and severe damage, such as more remote areas upriver, should prepare for more than a week before EWEB can restore power.

The estimate is based on experience from similar ice storms in 2016 and 2019. This year, the number of customers without power peaked at 24,000 on Wednesday morning, after a second round of ice struck the region, followed immediately by a thaw. The one-two punch erased days of progress in one fell swoop.

In 2016, the number of customers without power peaked at 20,000 and EWEB restored power to the majority of customers within eight days. And in 2019, the number of outages peaked at 24,000 and power was restored to the majority of customers within nine days.

The estimate may change depending on the scale of damage, available equipment to replace broken parts and how many contract crews are able to join EWEB staff crews, who have all been working 16-hour days since Saturday morning.

“Thursday is our sixth straight day of long shifts and little rest, and for some customers and our employees it’s their sixth day without power. We’re working at full tilt to get the power restored, and we’re going to continue to operate at our full potential by maintaining a steady, consistent, safe pace on restorations,” said Tyler Nice, EWEB electric operations manager. “Everyone here at EWEB is grateful for the continued patience of our customers as we get the power back on.”

On Wednesday, EWEB restored power for about 10,000 customers across Eugene, from the Willakenzie neighborhood to the Friendly neighborhood and everywhere in between. Restorations continued on Thursday and as of Thursday mid-day, about 13,000 customers remained without power.

Since the storm began, EWEB crews have followed standard policies of the “hierarchy of repair” to prioritize repairing equipment that serves the largest number of customers first. On Wednesday, that meant repairing “feeders” that deliver energy from substations to local distribution systems. Repairing these feeders allowed EWEB to restore power for large numbers of customers at once.

By late Wednesday night, EWEB had completed repairs on all in-town feeders. During the day, Wednesday, crews also moved on to repairing “taps” – which serve clusters of homes – where power was available. These repairs often take just as long to complete, even though they bring power back on for a far smaller number of customers. That means that the pace of restoration numbers will slow in the days ahead, even though all crews will still be fully dedicated to the effort.

In addition, the electric system doesn’t always align with the street network, and neighbors across the street from each other may be served by a different part of the system that still has power.

In some cases, customers may need to fix issues on equipment they own before they can get service. If a customer is the only person in their immediate area without power, there may be damage on the service line that leads into their home. Customers should check the weatherhead and meter base to make sure they didn’t sustain damage. If they did, customers should contact an electrician for repairs, which need to be completed before EWEB can restore service to the home.

In EWEB’s service territory in the McKenzie River Valley, crews spent Wednesday working on repairing long-distance transmission lines so they can reenergize the spine of EWEB’s grid in the area. Per EWEB’s hierarchy of repair policies, repairs to feeders will follow in the days ahead, with repairs to taps occurring last.

Customers can check EWEB’s outage map for more details:

Read additional updates or learn more about power outages