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Power restored at EWEB’s water treatment plant

January 16, 2024 Aaron Orlowski, EWEB Communications

Crews restored electric power to EWEB's Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant Monday evening, allowing operators to switch off the generators and rely again on the grid.

Meanwhile, EWEB crews brace for additional outages amidst second round of ice and during the coming thaw.

The water treatment plant is well-stocked with fuel and equipment, including the on-site chlorine generation technology. But the restoration of electric power marked a victory for EWEB crews, all of whom have been in the field since Saturday assessing outages, making safe any dangerous situations and restoring power. 

Across Eugene, crews have been following EWEB’s restoration protocols – called the “hierarchy of repair” – to focus first on fixing equipment that serves the greatest number of customers, then moving on to fixing equipment that serves fewer customers.

As of mid-day Tuesday, about 4,900 customers remained without power, while EWEB has restored the power of thousands more since the storm began.

“Our crews appreciate the support of community members grateful for their work as they navigate slick roads and frigid conditions to get the power back on for customers,” said Tyler Nice, EWEB electric operations manager. “But we know many other customers are still out of power. We’re thankful for customers’ patience as we all band together to get through this ice storm.”

Five contract crews started working on Tuesday, bolstering EWEB’s capacity to fix outages and restore power.

EWEB is bracing for another round of outages in the days ahead. The first challenge will be a second round of ice that is forecasted to buffet the region Tuesday afternoon. The National Weather Service predicts about 0.2 inches of ice accumulation late Tuesday afternoon and evening, when temperatures will finally rise above freezing and precipitation will shift to rain. 

The fresh layer of ice could damage trees that are already struggling with the icy weight, causing them to snap and damage electrical equipment. If conditions deteriorate, EWEB may need to pull back crews to make sure they stay safe.

The second challenge is that after the ice begins to thaw, limbs that are currently suspended by ice could cut loose, causing yet more outages.

“This storm is a marathon, not a sprint based on the conditions and damage we have seen so far. Our crews are prioritizing safety to make sure that injuries and equipment damage don’t sideline us or prevent us from continuing to restore power,” Nice said. “We’re still hoping for the best, but we are ready in case it gets worse before it gets better. We will be closely monitoring ice conditions and system outages through the night.” 

Upriver, most of EWEB’s transmission lines are still down, meaning that EWEB has a long road ahead to restore power to customers east of Thurston. The transmission lines – which carry high-voltage power from power plants to substations – need to be repaired before EWEB crews can start repairing the local distribution networks that bring power to individual homes.

Conditions on the roads leading to transmission lines upriver are still hazardous. When conditions are safe, crews will begin tackling restoration of transmission lines, following the hierarchy of repair.

Customers can check EWEB’s outage map for more details: eweb.org/outagemap

The “hierarchy of repair” ensures EWEB focuses high-impact repairs first.

EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson issued an emergency declaration for the utility, effective at 6 a.m. Sunday morning. All crews have been working since Saturday morning to assess power outages, make safe any situations that are dangerous, and restore power.

EWEB follows a "hierarchy of repair" when restoring power after major outages. This system is used throughout the utility industry to get power turned on the fastest to the highest number of people. 

The order of priority means first repairing downed transmission and distribution lines that will restore power to the greatest number of people, then focusing on repairing lines that serve fewer customers.

For example, repairing one large transmission line can restore power to thousands of customers, while repairing a small “tap” line that serves a few people in a neighborhood often is more time consuming. The repair of the individual service line that provides power to a single home is often last on the restoration priority list. 

The damage sustained at the service line is the most time-consuming to repair. A crew might spend the same amount of time restoring power to a few customers as it takes to restore power to several hundred customers.

Customers can speed up your own personal restoration process by checking to see if there is damage to their weatherhead or meter base. If they find damage, they can contact a licensed electrician to make those repairs and then have the electrician provide a supervisory letter to EWEB.

Always check the outage map for progress at eweb.org/outagemap.




Read additional updates or learn more about power outages

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We regularly receive reports of power outages that are actually a tripped breaker on the customer's circuit panel. Checking your circuit panel before reporting an outage can save you hassle and money.

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Using a generator when the power goes out is a great option, but safety should be the top priority for both you and utility workers.