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
Women in STEM: EWEB Engineer Laura Ohman's second degree brings a lifetime of benefits
EWEB Engineer Laura Ohman shares how getting her second degree was one of the most difficult and rewarding things she's ever accomplished.Find Out More
Planning for a Future of Reliable, Affordable, Environmentally Responsible Energy
The challenges revealed by Eugene Water & Electric Board’s integrated resource planning process mirror those facing the Northwest.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
EWEB’s heat driven call to conserve energy yields major savings
EWEB is likely to implement similar, formalized “demand response” programs in the future.Find Out More
Please join your neighbors in reducing energy use today
With excessive temperatures and wildfire conditions affecting power generation across the region, EWEB is encouraging customers to safely conserve power.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
Women in STEM: Meet our servant leader and maker of tough decisions
Karen Kelley, Chief Operations Officer at EWEB, describes herself as a "servant leader," offering support and mentoring to four division managers at EWEB.Find Out More
Planning for a Reliable, Affordable, Green Energy Future
EWEB General Manager Frank Lawson publishes an op-ed in the Eugene Weekly about EWEB's IRP.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet the woman responsible for managing our wholesale energy agreements to ensure we meet our customers energy needs
Megan Capper, the Energy Resource Manager at EWEB, began her career working in economics at BPA before joining the power planning department EWEB, ensuring we can meet the energy needs of our our customers today, tomorrow and 20 years from now.Find Out More
EWEB establishes multipronged resiliency policy
Disaster recovery and prevention are being embedded in all operations and processes.Find Out More
Substations – The resilient spine of EWEB’s electric system
The substation redundancy ensures reliable power continues to flow to homes and businesses despite unexpected equipment failures and routine maintenance.Find Out More
EWEB charts energy supply choices for next 2-3 years
After 18 months of study to assess Eugene’s future electricity needs, EWEB has identified next steps to pursue in the next two to three years.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
June 2021 Heat Dome broke records for temperature – but not energy use, EWEB analysis finds
The extreme temperatures from two years ago show the need for EWEB to choose energy sources based on best fit.Find Out More
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Reviewing EWEB’s Sept. 9-11 Public Safety Power Shut-off
September 15, 2022
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the Willamette Valley, predicting high winds from the east along with high temperatures and low humidity – conditions that could easily contribute to a wildfire’s spread.
EWEB activated our Incident Command System to assess, prepare and coordinate with local agencies and neighboring utilities. By Thursday evening, EWEB announced our first Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) for approximately 3,000 customers in the McKenzie Valley service territory, auto-dialing affected customers, sending emails, contacting local media outlets, posting on social media, and coordinating with Lane County Emergency Management to notify the public about this plan.
For public safety reasons due to severe weather forecasts, EWEB elected to preemptively deenergize more than 100 miles of line from Camp Creek to Vida, as well as approximately 100 miles of transmission line running from our Carmen Smith hydroelectric project.
“This decision was not made lightly,” said Tyler Nice, EWEB electric operations manager. “We weighed many factors and carefully considered all elements of a PSPS, including planning, operations, logistics, and critical community impacts to ensure safety for customers, community, and staff. We also partnered with local Lane County Emergency Management and upriver emergency response to ensure we understood how this would affect their operations.”
The extreme fire weather forecasts coincided with the two-year anniversary of the devastating Holiday Farm Fire of 2020. The eerie similarities heightened the sense of danger, especially for communities that lost so much.
A PSPS is just one tool that EWEB is using to reduce fire risk. This year, we adopted a wildfire mitigation plan, improving upon the numerous programs EWEB has in place for grid reliability and safety. The plan includes protocols for initiating Protective Settings Mode, which make power lines more sensitive, and PSPS. A PSPS is an operational practice used by utilities in California, Oregon, and Washington to shut off power in high-risk fire areas to prevent electrical equipment from contributing to a fire during extreme and potentially dangerous weather conditions. This was the first time since EWEB adopted a wildfire mitigation plan that forecasted and observed the conditions that met the criteria for a PSPS.
EWEB, in coordination with other utilities, made the decision to activate a pre-emptive safety shutoff on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. and we were able to safely restore power to all customers by 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The work performed over the weekend was unprecedented for EWEB and has presented an opportunity for us to evaluate the protocols laid out in our Wildfire Mitigation Plan as they relate to planning, communication, and restoration. While flexibility of plans is important, we want our restoration work to be efficient and safe.
“We understand the hardship that any extended power outage can cause, including shutting off water systems and medical devices, especially under the conditions of heat and smoke which were present over the weekend due to the nearby Cedar Creek Fire,” said Nice. “EWEB staff worked methodically to create a safe and reliable restoration plan during this event, resulting in a quick restoration without incident to crews or the public. We chose to take a conservative and planned approach to restoration, allowing crews to restore only after inspecting every section of line to avoid any possibility of ignition upon re-energization.”
How can we be better the next time? That’s the question EWEB staff are focusing on now as we work diligently to improve our PSPS protocols. We met our objective during this event-- to mitigate the risk of wildfires safely and effectively--but there are still lessons to be learned and opportunities for improvement.
“I want to thank our crews, engineers, dispatchers and all EWEB staff involved in coordination and execution without prior experience with an event such as this. Our team brought their expertise and applied innovation to a new situation, creating a safe and methodical approach to mitigate a known risk, consistent with our number one utility value of public safety. We now have in place updated processes and procedures that will reduce restoration time if or when this happens again,” said Nice.
We continue to make improvements to our outage response process and investments to improve the resiliency of our systems, but even the most reliable infrastructure will never be completely immune to disruption. Extreme weather events can happen any time and power can be off for multiple days. It’s important to be prepared. We encourage our customers to create an emergency plan that accounts for all family members and animals, especially those with special medical or transportation needs, and practice it. EWEB offers additional information and best practices for emergencies on our website eweb.org/emergencyprep.
To help us reach you during future wildfire or Public Safety Power Shutoff events, please sign up for our Emergency Alerts & Preparedness e-newsletter