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Pacific Power crews fight storm-caused outages

By KTVZ.COM news sources
Published On: Dec 23 2012 01:00:05 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 23 2012 01:08:23 PM CST
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PORTLAND, Ore. -

Hundreds of workers from Bend and other locations are going into the fourth day battling wind, snow and falling trees to repair power lines and restore service over a wide swath of Southwest Oregon and Northern California, the utility said Sunday.

Pacific Power advised that as of Sunday morning, just fewer than 8,000 of its customers remain without power in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

At peak times during the storm, as many as 20,000 customers were affected at various times on Thursday and Friday.

Between field personnel, logistics support, emergency action command center, customer service and other support, plus loaned crews and independent contractors, an estimated 400 people are focused on restoring power to these customers and communities.

Sunday morning 9:00 am, current customer outage totals are as follows:

*     Grants Pass, OR: 5,330

*     Yreka/Happy Camp, CA: 1018

*     Mt. Shasta, CA: 78

*     Medford, OR: restored crews from Medford have been redeployed.

Significant progress has been made overnight, 35% in Grants Pass, but progress was lost in the Happy Camp area as new replacement poles were broken and more trees dropped into power lines by heavy snow.

Estimated times for full restoration for thee districts affected has been extended beyond Christmas day.

Terrain, snow and access are challenges for some of the most remote customers in Happy Camp, as many roads are blocked. High winds forecast for Northern California Sunday evening may worsen the situation.

Pacific Power crews, independent contract crews and now crews from other utilities in the region are converged on the area.

Under mutual assistance agreements, personnel from Redding Electric Utilities have joined in the effort and crews from Portland General Electric and Eugene Water and Electric Board are assembling or en route.

The concentration of manpower has drawn from Pacific Power service centers in Portland, Bend, Hood River and other communities throughout Oregon and Washington.

In Grants Pass/Josephine County, OR, nearly 200 personnel are working on round-the -clock shifts and will be joined by additional contractors and crews Sunday morning;

*     Heavy, wet snow, falling trees and blocked roads have presented considerable challenges. Many spans of wire and pole structures have been repeatedly repaired due to multiple tree falls and other damage.

In the Yreka / Happy Camp area of Northern California, nearly 80 personnel are working on around the clock shifts and additional crews have been mobilized to the area overnight and Sunday morning.

*     Damage from continuous heavy, wet snow and fallen trees and branches will require something of a rebuild to parts of the system, the damage is so significant.

*     With weather breaks, the company is flying transmission lines by helicopter to dramatically expedite assessments. This area of Northern California contains the convergence of multiple mountain ranges; some electrical structures are accessible only by snow cat.

In spite of the extended and difficult conditions, there have been no safety incidents reported, something Doug Butler, Pacific Power vice president of transmission and distribution operations was able to report as he travelled to and throughout the area Saturday, into the evening. He will continue to the Yreka and Shasta areas Sunday, monitoring work sites and safety, and de-briefing with crews and managers.

Regional Community managers for the company have been coordinating closely with county emergency management officials and the American Red Cross to provide updates, cooperate on transportation and road closure issues, and especially to assist in set-up of warming shelters as Wolf Creek, Cave Junction and Grants Pass.

*     The warming centers are expected to be open through Monday.

*     In Siskiyou County, CA, the "community" has set up a warming center at the Happy Camp Community Center that will remain open as needed.

*     Shelter information has been provided to agents and is available on the Pacific Power website, pacificpower.net/outage  The website will continue to be updated hourly until the outage has been restored.

As electricity is progressively restored, customers are advised to also check their service connection point, or weather head, where the power line connects to their home.

If it has been damaged by trees or the weather, it is very important to have it repaired by a licensed electrician before Pacific Power can restore power to the residence or business.

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