EWEB: Buried Power Lines Coming To South Hills Area

Mar 3, 2019

It’s been a week now since heavy snows buried much of southwest Oregon, in one of the worst storms in the region’s history. 

Utility crews working on overhead power lines, February 27, 2019.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Downed trees caused downed powerlines throughout the region, with recovery efforts held up by roads choked with trees, ice, and abandoned vehicles. Utility EWEB says the cost of repairing or replacing damaged lines is currently at $3 million.

An EWEB utility truck and flagger alongside Willamette Street, up Spencer's Butte on Sunday, March 3, 2019.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC


Spokesman Joe Harwood says EWEB got grant money from FEMA after the 2016 ice storm, which is being used to put some power lines underground starting this April.


“Some of those projects may go into 2020, and those are the ones in the South Hills," he tells KLCC. "But people need to understand that underground lines certainly work when you have snow, wind, and ice storms. But the problem with undergrounding is that it also takes longer to repair when you have a failed cable.


"So there’s pros and cons each way.” 

EWEB trucks outside a South Eugene home with tree damage, February 26, 2019.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC


Meanwhile, the City of Eugene’s Public Works department says storm cleanup costs have reached $350,000.


If the feds approve Governor Brown’s emergency declaration, responding agencies and utilities could get three-fourths of costs reimbursed.


Copyright 2019, KLCC.