Dec 16, 2005

PGE Intentionally Turns Off The Power During Ice Storms?

I received an e-mail from a constituent in Troutdale. It said in part,

"Today, 12-16, a PGE representative affixed to our front door, sometime around 9 a.m., not ringing the bell, so we could talk, a "planned outage notification", announcing that PGE will be shutting off our power Monday, December 19, for five hours.

We were watching the weather forecast when we found the notification. With the wind chill factor, it is 12 degrees; without it is 27. This is not the time to be shutting off our power for five hours.

We called the # on the form. After a long 'hold' , we spoke with a coordinator. She shunted us off to the designer, telling us to talk to him, Ed Eckstrom, at 669-5216. We called and got his message, announcing he will be out of town until December 20, the day following the outage, but he did leave a # for his coordinator, and we called 'her' at 736-5450, and she was not happy to hear from us and shunted us off to her "dispatcher out there", Jeff. Jeff was pleasant and , at length, after I told him this is no time to shut down power in Troutdale, asked if I would like to have his supervisor call. I said "absolutely". And that is where it stands."

I forwarded this e-mail to City of Troutdale staff, and received this reply:

"I have received a response from George Jones, our undergrounding project manager at PGE. He confirmed that the outage is related to our undergrounding project. He does want to proceed with the outage work on Monday, since follow-on work with PGE crews and private contractors is scheduled on Tuesday and would be difficult (and perhaps costly) to reschedule.

George did say that the 5 hours mentioned in the outage notice was a "worst case" scenario, and they expect the outage to actually be more in the range of 2 hours. And even if the work were rescheduled, there is no guarantee that the weather on the rescheduled date would be any better."

This evening I checked the current Troutdale weather forecast for Sunday, Dec. 18 and Monday, Dec. 19:

"Sunday Night: Cloudy. Chance of freezing rain. Probability of measurable precipitation 30 percent. East wind 38 mph. Low 30.

Monday: Cloudy. Slight chance of freezing rain then slight chance of rain. Probability of measurable precipitation 20 percent. High 35."

Let's run through this. the sustained winds in Troutdale are currently running 28-30 mph, which means a wind chill of around 12 degrees. There is a good chance of an ice storm on Monday, December 19.

And PGE intends to INTENTIONALLY shut off power for several hours for an untold number of Troutdale residents as part of our undergrounding project on Monday. Brilliant.

And PGE has no problem with this? I have a problem with this.


"Due to the storm and PGE crews being needed elsewhere, this outage will not occur today. PGE will try to reschedule as soon as possible, perhaps near the end of the week."

According to City of Troutdale staff, PGE project manager George Jones told our constituent on friday that "this was a possibility".

That's funny. Based on PGE's previous response to city staff PGE gave the impression they would go ahead with the planned outage come hell or high water or ice storm. . .



Anonymous said...

Planned outages are a necessary thing. It's pretty sad if you can't survive without electricity for five hours. Go Christmas shopping or visit some friends and be thankfull that your electric utility is upgrading/fixing stuff and giving you advance notice.

Walter E. Wallis said...

Systems need maintenance or they break. Give me an outage with advance scheduling rather than an unplanned one every time.