Utility Companies Brace For Potential Repeat Of December's Ice Storm

Jan 6, 2017

With up to a half-inch of ice expected to accumulate on roads and trees early Saturday, utilities are bracing for a possible repeat of mid-December’s ice storm that caused significant outages.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.  

Traffic ducks a large branch that's collapsed onto Willamette Street in Eugene, after the December 14th storm.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Last month, tens of thousands of utility customers in the Eugene-Springfield area went without power after freezing rain and heavy ice busted trees and blew up transformers.

Joe Harwood is spokesman for EWEB.  He says in addition to their five crews, 24 outside crews from neighboring utilities were called in.  Given the wider range of this incoming storm, Harwood’s unsure if they’ll have the same resources.

“If this ice storm starts in the Southern Willamette Valley and moves up to the central valley, to Salem and then up into Portland and the (Columbia River) Gorge, I don’t know that we’ll be able to call on mutual aid resources to help," says Harwood.  "Because everyone’s going to be trying to restore their own power, so we’ll just wait and see what happens.” 

Harwood says if customers suffer an outage, to check their breaker box for tripped circuits before contacting EWEB. 

People should also turn down thermostats and shut off appliances, to lessen the drain on the system once power is restored.