Historic Outages Caused by Ice Storm
Just after 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 12, Salem Electric began receiving the first of thousands of outage calls from members reporting downed lines, broken poles, and fuses exploding in nearly every corner of our service area. In a relatively short period, ice had built up on tree limbs causing them to crash to the ground, taking power lines with them. The few isolated outages occurring earlier in the day turned into a major hit on our distribution system. At one point, nearly 9,000 members were without power and metering data indicated that approximately 85% of our 20,000 meters sustained a power outage. Salem Electric crews worked non-stop restoring power and within 48 hours we had power restored to all but 200 members.
Crew foreman Jon Charnetzki commented, “We’ve worked through countless winter storms and have seen first-hand the severe damage left behind. This was certainly one of the worst storms to ever hit our service territory.”
We reached out to other utilities for assistance, and within 24 hours we had four mutual aid crews from across the state here to help. Crews from Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative (Eugene), Central Electric Cooperative (Redmond), Central Lincoln PUD (Newport), and Lane Electric Cooperative (Eugene) worked alongside our crews in dangerous conditions, with an enormous workload, to restore power to our members.
The support we received from members was overwhelming. From encouraging emails and messages on social media, to providing food and drinks to crews—we are so grateful for your kindness!