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Preparing for Extreme Heat

June 25, 2021

heat advisory graphic

We are ready to deal with the stress that extreme heat may place on our electric system. We encourage customers to be prepared, stay cool and hydrated and practice safety by developing an emergency plan and checking in on neighbors.

In extreme temperatures, electricity is more important than ever

High temperatures can stress the electric distribution system, particularly transformers and underground power cables. When daytime highs near or exceed the 100-degree mark, which is more typical of late July and August, we have more underground powerlines fail.

Please keep in mind that underground cable failures often take longer to repair than overhead cables. The high temps, coupled with increased electric demand to run air conditioners, can overheat the oil in overhead and underground transformers, causing them to fail.

Underground cable failures, along with overheated transformers, can cause outages. Our crews know the temperature on Sunday is forecast to exceed 100 degrees and will be ready to respond to any outages.

If you do experience an outage, don't hesitate to let us know by calling our toll-free outage reporting line at 1-844-484-2300, or by texting "out" to TXEWEB (893932).

Extreme heat can impact the electric grid

EWEB has enough energy to supply customers, but extreme heat can create "peak demand" events that tax the regional grid as people crank up air conditioning units to stay safe and cool. 

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 access to 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. 

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 that can create problems for the grid. 

Ensuring adequate power resources and reliable systems across the region

Here in the Pacific 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.  

And our power resources team is proactively working to ensure that EWEB's portfolio of resources can absorb increased supply and demand uncertainty. For example, we proactively purchased additional energy on the wholesale market to cover expected demand and we have a program for working with major customers to shift loads away from the hottest parts of the day. 

If you would like to learn more about efforts to optimize our power resources, infrastructure, and services so that we can continue to serve our community with clean, affordable and reliable power, check out our Electricity Supply Planning page

EWEB customers can 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.).  

Finally, watching our water use can help the grid as well. It takes a lot of energy to treat and deliver the water you use every day. It takes even more energy to turn it into hot water. Saving water saves energy, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Fixing leaks around the house, taking shorter showers, and planting "water-wise" landscapes are also great ways to take care of our water source, the beautiful McKenzie River. 

Learn more about peak power.

Plan ahead for emergencies

EWEB crews are getting ready to deal with the stress that extreme heat may place on our electric system. While we hope to avoid power outages and will resolve any outages that do occur as quickly and safely as possible, we always encourage customers to plan ahead for staying cool, fed, and hydrated in the event the power does go out. 

Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices. Create an outage kit with a few basic items, such as: 

  • Stored or bottled water 
  • Flashlights and fresh batteries 
  • Back-up batteries for cellphones 
  • Battery-powered or hand-held fans  
  • Frozen cold packs  

Plan ahead to relocate to a friend or family member's home or to a shelter, especially if you have a medical condition that requires electricity or you'll need to work or learn from home during an outage. Find more emergency preparedness tips and sign up for EWEB's Pledge to Prepare at eweb.org/emergencyprep

Cooling tips for your home

Air conditioning is one way to cool your home, but the energy use can quickly add up on your utility bill. Fortunately for us in the green and temperate Pacific Northwest, we have many alternatives that can keep our homes comfortable in the summer with less energy use. A combination of proper insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, shading, and ventilation will usually keep your home cool, with a low amount of energy use.

Some of our tips are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the warm months.

Read more.