As the historic power outages in Clackamas County nears a full week, thousands face the unwelcome but nearly certain prospect that it will be another week or more before their lights come back on.
Portland General Electric on Friday unveiled a new map tool allowing customers to track their outages and get updated information on restoration times.
Unfortunately, for the estimate 7,758 customers surrounding Canby city limits and south and east of Oregon City, as well as 3,291 in the Molalla area, the utility estimates it could be up to nine days for restoration, with high levels of damage including downed poles and to regional, PGE and customer infrastructure.
PGE has maintained its expectation that power will be restored to all but 15,000 of its affected customers by Friday night.
The remaining customers are in what PGE calls the “epicenter of the storm” and were hit hardest. These areas include not only Canby, but areas surrounding Oregon City, Molalla, Beavercreek, West Linn, Silverton, Gladstone, Milwaukie, Sellwood, Woodburn and Sublimity.
“Please know how seriously we take this incident,” PGE President and CEO Maria Pope said at a Thursday morning news conference. “We are working hard 24/7 to get your power back on.”
PGE has brought in what U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader called this week a workforce involving “twice as many crews as they’ve ever had in their history,” including mutual assistance line workers from five other western states.
“It’s going to be tough, you know,” he said. “There’s always going to be that last house at the end of the road, but they’re working really hard. They’re doing all they can.”
Despite the thousands still without power, PGE has touted the progress it has made this week, digging out from under the most destructive winter weather event the region has seen in a half-century, restoring power to more than 622,000 customers since the start of the storm.
Approximately 60,000 customers remained without power as of Friday afternoon — just under half of them (27,721) in Clackamas County. Another 20,000 were in Marion County.
“As PGE works 24/7 to restore power, we continue to see saturated trees and limbs inflict additional damage to transmission lines, substations, feeders and distribution lines,” the utility said in an update Friday. “These are all required to work together to deliver power to the approximately 900,000 homes and businesses we serve.”
The utility’s historic workload so far has included repair of 36 transmission lines, 20 substations and 239 feeders, with 286,936 feet of new wire laid and 331 miles of transmission line restored. PGE has also replaced 320 transformers, 482 utility poles and 1,254 crossarms.