While more than 55,000 Clackamas Countians remain without power Wednesday night, six days after a historic and deadly ice storm first swept through the region, Portland General Electric promised that 90% of people who are still in the dark will have their electricity restored by Friday evening.
“By Friday night, we expect 90% of customers currently without power will be restored,” PGE said in the statement attributed to Larry Bekkedahl, vice president of grid architecture, integration and systems operations. “For the remaining 10%, due to the significant damage and access challenges, we expect that it will take several more days.”
The update comes as more than 3,000 people are working to restore power after the storm caused what PGE described as “catastrophic destruction” to its system. The issue, according to a spokesman from PGE, was that trees in several locations had come crashing onto the company’s equipment, damaging power lines, transmission lines and even substations.
“When a monumental storm like this impacts transmission and substations, it means the ways we can get electricity to feeders is broken, and we have to repair each piece,” PGE explains on its new web page aimed at providing information on the Valentine’s Day storms.
“Our first step is to ensure public safety, then we go from the largest group of customers to the smallest group, until everyone is back on. At times, we’ll reroute power to areas if we can, which may look like we fixed it faster, but the repairs still need to happen at a later time.”
At least 8,500 individual wires were downed by ice, falling tree limbs and other debris. PGE has restored power for nearly 490,000 customers since the start of the storm, the company said, but 132,000 customers were still without power statewide as of 5 p.m. Wednesday due to new ice and wind events creating new outages.
Pacific Power is also reporting some 4,950 customers still in the dark. Both utility companies said crews were working around the clock, with backup called in from as far away as Nevada and Montana. PGE said the workforce it mobilized was the largest in the utility’s history.
Clackamas County remained PGE’s leader in powerless households as of Wednesday night, with 651 outages affecting 55,557 customers. Marion County was second, with 461 and 38,439, and Multnomah County a distant third at 354 and 17,624. No other county in the state had more than 3,500 residents with the lights still out.
Further impacting the recovery are 11 PGE transmission lines (which deliver power from the plants to the substations) still out as well as 25 feeders (which deliver from the substations to neighborhoods).