Roughly 5,000 homes and businesses on Mount Hood are being asked to brace for up to 48 hours without electricity, in a first for Portland General Electric.
PGE is considering shutting off power to reduce wildfire danger over the coming days, though spokeswoman Andrea Platt said the company will shut off electricity only if absolutely necessary for fire safety, and will return power as quickly as it is able.
The affected customers are along U.S. Highway 26 east of Sandy on Mount Hood, where weather forecasts call for high winds and fire danger Monday and Tuesday.
“We are looking at the location and geography. This is a heavily wooded area, heavily forested. In that area, when there are sustained high winds, they can blow power lines down and that can spark a fire,” Platt said Sunday. “Usually we don’t see that type of weather in Oregon, but the climate is changing.”
The areas likely to be affected are largely, though not entirely, residential.
Platt encouraged people who rely on electric pumps for wells to stock up on bottled water, and said anyone in the affected area should make emergency preparations for up to two days without electricity.
People may want to purchase ice to keep food cold, she said, adding that those who do not have an outage kit already should prepare one now. “Have your flashlights, extra batteries, your car charger for your cell phone,” she said. “Also battery powered lamps and non-electric things to pass the time.”
Customers can enter their addresses online at portlandgeneral.com/wildfire to determine if they may be affected.
“This is a first. We have never taken these kinds of steps to prevent a fire,” Platt said.