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
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’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
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
National Preparedness Month: Older adults take control in 1, 2, 3
We know older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the extreme weather events and emergencies we face, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability, depend on electricity for medical needs, or live in rural areas.Find Out More
Bethel neighbors boost emergency preparedness during Emergency Water Station event
Staff gave out about 300 emergency water containers to enthusiastic community members eager to learn more about the water station.Find Out More
Stay cool during extreme heat events
With temperatures forecasted to reach over 100 degrees over the next several days, we've prepared some tips and tricks to help you stay cool.Find Out More
EWEB establishes multipronged resiliency policy
Disaster recovery and prevention are being embedded in all operations and processes.Find Out More
Wildfire season is here – tips and safety precautions
Temperatures are heating up with weather forecasts anticipating temperatures up to 99 degrees in Eugene and the surrounding areas on the 4th of July.Find Out More
EWEB Safety Tip: Celebrate responsibly with balloons
If your graduation celebration involves balloons, make sure they are secured with a weight. Otherwise, they can float away and come into contact with overhead power lines.Find Out More
Every Week is Infrastructure Week
National Infrastructure Week (May 14-20) may be a politically charged quip on the national stage, but for EWEB, the urgency and importance of infrastructure is no joke.Find Out More
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System Resiliency Projects To Begin in Late Spring
March 07, 2019
Following the 2016 ice storm, we applied for grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make resiliency improvements to our electric system to reduce the frequency and duration of storm-related outages in several areas prone to storm damage.
FEMA tightly controls how such grant money is spent, and our distribution engineering staff spent a great deal of time refining the projects and tailoring them to meet the agency's stringent requirements. Those efforts paid off when FEMA approved almost all of the projects in late 2017. Design work started last year.
The agency has thus far approved 15 of the 16 proposed reliability projects, and will fund 75 percent of the cost, estimated to be about $3 million. The final project should be approved later this spring. Click here to view a brochure and map of the projects.
A dozen of the reliability projects will involve reconfiguring older overhead power lines that now have two wires and replacing them with new, higher-capacity cable that requires only one wire. This will also allow for the removal of crossarms, which are susceptible to falling trees and limbs and a common culprit in an outage. Replacement of damaged crossarms is time-consuming and slows restoration efforts. In addition, some lines may be rerouted.
Four of the reliability projects will convert overhead lines to underground service. Some areas where undergrounding will occur include Blanton Road and East 50th Avenue between Willamette and Fox Hollow. We will hold public meetings to explain the projects and gather comments from those in neighborhoods where overhead to underground conversations are planned.
Most of the overhead projects that involve reconfiguring and replacing lines and removing crossarms will begin in the late spring of 2019. The underground conversions will take place in 2020 and 2021.
One of the questions we receive after winter storms damage the system by bringing down trees and overhead power lines is: Why doesn't EWEB put more power lines underground?
The explanation is a bit complicated.
One primary driver in considering overhead to underground conversion is cost. Placing overhead lines underground in established neighborhoods - around existing underground infrastructure such as water/sewer pipes and buildings - is expensive.
The cost to underground a transmission line, which serves thousands of customers, is around $500 per foot. To underground a primary feeder line, which serves several hundred up to more than a thousand customers, costs about $150 per foot.
Those estimates do not include the cost of negotiating easements on private property, nor the cost of the ground transformers that would be required. And it is the customer's responsibility to pay for converting to an underground meter base that connects to the house.
There also is additional cost to repair fences and landscaping after the underground work is completed, and some property owners don't want us digging up their backyards, or placing pad mount ground transformers in their front yards.
By comparison, overhead power lines are much less costly. An overhead transmission line costs about $150 per foot, and an overhead primary feeder line costs about $70 per foot. That $70 per foot drops even further when there are multiple circuits coming off the overhead feeder.
New developments already incorporate underground utilities during construction. When underground lines are installed as part of a new subdivision that is not already encumbered by buildings, streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure, it is much less expensive. Plus, the developer covers those installation costs.
While undergrounding electric lines tends to protect them during ice and snow storms, the lines can be difficult and time-consuming to repair when the underground cables fail.
When considering whether to underground power cables in areas that sustain significant damage when snow and ice bring down trees and lines, we consider the safety and reliability benefits against the costs.