Due to the latest red flag heat warning issued by the National Weather Service and high-risk wildfire conditions, Portland General Electric has announced as many as 30,000 customers in the metro area could experience public safety power shutoffs to mitigate the risk of fire danger.
Areas that may be impacted by the shutoffs include large rural zones surrounding Molalla, Estacada, Oregon City and Sandy, as well as along Highway 26 near Mount Hood, according to the latest projections from PGE.
The purpose of conducting public safety power shutoffs is to mitigate the risk of sparks that could cause wildfires in extremely dry conditions. High winds and other factors may be taken into account in performing shutoffs.
PGE says it is actively monitoring conditions and will make the decision based on factors including wind speed, temperature, humidity and the dryness of trees and brush, field observations and information from local fire departments and agencies.
Weather forecasts indicate strong, gusty winds are predicted across PGE’s service area, starting as early as Friday morning.
“PGE works year-round to help keep our system safe and resilient from wildfire, including managing over 2.2 million trees along 12,000 miles of power lines,” said Larry Bekkedahl, a senior vice president for PGE.
“However, we are expecting extreme winds that could cause outages. We are preparing to have crews at the ready to begin repairing damage following the high winds, as soon as conditions are safe.”
PGE will continue to monitor conditions for the next 24 to 48 hours and will provide an update. If necessary, PGE aims to provide up to four hours of notice before turning off the power.
PGE says these shutoffs are a “last-resort safety measure,” and the agency relies on field observations by crews, as well as information from local fire departments, when deciding whether one is needed.
If PGE performs a shutoff in these areas, the power will remain off as long as the utility deems it necessary based on fire risk and weather conditions. A shutoff could last multiple days.
After weather conditions return to normal, PGE will begin to visually inspect its equipment and make any repairs necessary to safely re-energize lines. Based on current information, PGE estimates a PSPS could be called on Friday morning, and power could be out through Saturday night.
Assuming this event duration and no damage to our system, power restoration would begin Sunday morning and power to customers could be restored by Monday night.
If PGE calls a public safety power shutoff in these areas, community resource centers will likely be opened to provide information, water, ice, wifi and charging stations for electronic devices.
PGE is communicating directly with customers in the impacted areas and will also communicate through the news media, on portlandgeneral.com/psps and on social media, @PortlandGeneral on Twitter and @PortlandGeneralElectric on Facebook.
Customer service is available at 503-228-6322 and service advisors can assist customers in more than 200 languages.
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