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EWEB Publishes February Snow Storm After Action Report

April 15, 2019

Following the devastating ice storm that struck Eugene in December 2016 , EWEB has focused on emergency preparedness and disaster recovery as a strategic priority. Building on lessons learned from that storm, we implemented new processes and procedures to restore power more efficiently and improve the information we share with customers. The February 2019 snow storm that dumped 18-plus inches of snow gave us an opportunity to test those new processes and procedures in a multi-day event affecting thousands of customers. In our continuing pursuit of providing exceptional customer service during emergency situations, EWEB staff once again analyzed the utility's performance, noting points of success and identifying areas for continued improvement.

Event Overview

The February 2019 snow storm tested the resiliency of the EWEB electric system, utility staff and our customer-owners in Eugene and the McKenzie River Valley. The storm event caused devastating damage to communities and EWEB's electrical infrastructure, totaling $4.3 million in restoration costs (updated from the initial estimate of $3.5 million). In all, over 15,000 homes experienced at least one outage during the event, with the cumulative outages adding up to more than 20,000. The bulk of customers had power restored within nine days of the initial snowfall, with only very minor staff and public safety incidents.

Restoration Statistics

  • 10 days in emergency incident response
  • 20,000 cumulative outages
  • 15 line crews 
  • 10 tree crews
  • 300 EWEB staff involved in efforts
  • 18 poles and 163 cross arms replaced
  • 43,000 feet of wire replaced
  • 30 transformers replaced
  • Estimated cost of $4.3 million (updated from initial estimate of $3.5 million)

Performance Summary

The report details a number of notable successes, including the focus on safe work practices and hazards assessment, which resulted in no major incidents and few minor injuries. In addition, the training and process efforts EWEB completed in 2017 and 2018 to build on the lessons learned from the ice storm proved to be beneficial, resulting in minimal idle-time for crews and more efficient restorations.

While our performance showed marked improvement when compared to the 2016 ice storm response, there is room for continued enhancements. The report details concrete and actionable lessons-learned and recommends the utility continue to invest in resourcing, systems and tools that aid in an efficient emergency restoration response.  

Further refinement of existing processes, additional staff training and added bench-strength in particular roles are needed to close the gap between outage incident time and restoration time.

This continued attention to emergency preparedness and the resiliency of the electric system will aid EWEB and customers in protecting life and property in future winter storms and other potential disasters.

Download the full report.