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Storm causes few outages for Columbia River PUD customers

Although the Willamette Valley experienced a significant storm last Thursday, power outages in south Columbia County were few, according to the Columbia River People’s Utility District.

“The biggest snow-related outage took place on Thursday when a car crashed into a pole near Trojan, affecting service to 129 customers,” said Libby Calnon, communications specialist with the PUD. “Aside from that, I’ve seen reports showing a total of 10 customers were affected by four other, separate incidents on Thursday and Friday.”

Calnon said there were so little outages in the storm due to the PUD’s tree trimming program, the lightness of the snow and the district’s work to draw power from different areas when outages do occur.

“We’ve been pretty consistent with our tree trimming over the past couple years, and that really helps with the outages,” she said. “We also do a lot of work to tie our system together so, if there is an outage, we can give power from other areas. Also, the snow was a little lighter and it doesn’t weight the trees down quite as much. It’s less apt to cause outages when the snow is a lighter weight.”

Calnon said the PUD did receive a number of customer calls informing the agency of downed tree limbs, but few of them caused any outages and district employees were able to respond to the various scenes before damage occurred.

While the PUD experienced little damage from the snow, Calnon said other utility districts were hit harder with ice and heavier snow.

“Our utility counterparts in Eugene are still working on repairs,” she said Wednesday.

The four other events that affected PUD customers’ power were fairly minor, including a blown fuse in Rainier that affected one customer, an equipment issue affecting one customer wherein a wire was pulled loose in St. Helens, another blown fuse in Rainier that affected four customers, and a fallen tree branch that affected another four customers in Rainier.

“We have been very fortunate during this storm to escape major system damage,” Calnon said.

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