More lights are back on in the Salem area, but outages will linger in north Marion County

On a rainy, and windy day, Feb. 15, a lineman for Salem Electric works to repair power lines damaged by a weekend ice storm. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Life in Salem is steadily returning to normal after a winter storm over the weekend covered the area in ice and snow, causing trees to split and power lines to crash. 

As of Thursday, Portland General Electric has restored power to approximately 567,000 customers in Oregon with another 100,000 customers still without electricity, said Maria Pope, the company’s president and CEO, during a press call.  According to PGE’s website, there are still 29,174 customers in Marion County and another 1003 in Polk County without power. 

By Friday night, the utility company expects 90% of customers to have power restored with just 15,000 remaining in the dark, she said. Many of those will be in north Marion County. 

Crews will be working 24-7 through the weekend to restore power to those remaining customers. Pope did not provide a specific time estimate for restoration.

“Please know between now and Friday night there’s a tremendous amount of work to do,” said Pope. “And a lot of people in the field.”

While Pope didn’t have a precise breakdown of the location of customers that’ll be the last to have power restored, she said they are located in the “epicenter of the storm.” Those areas include Silverton, Woodburn and Canby, she said.  

“We have hundreds and hundreds of people working in the field right now,” said Pope. She said that a total of 300 crews have been dispatched to restore power.

To facilitate repairs, the Oregon Department of Transportation will close all lanes of Interstate 5 from exit 263 near Brooks to exit 282 near Canby from 11 p.m Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday. Drivers are advised to use Highway 99E as an alternate route. 

Quintin Gaddis, PGE senior manager of substation operations, said that a total of 150 crews have been deployed to the hardest-hit areas and 24 have been sent to the Canby-Woodburn area. He said PGE has restored 300 miles of transmission lines, 226 distribution lines, which include over 40 miles of power lines. PGE’s website did not have a specific breakdown of power outages by ZIP code in Marion County. 

Pope added that if customers are having a hard time paying their bills because of hardship the utility can connect them to financial aid. 

Salem Electric has restored power to virtually all of its members, who are located primarily in Keizer, west Salem, as well as in parts of the city’s downtown and northeast. 

“We currently don’t have any outages,” said Britni Davidson, member services manager for Salem Electric. 

She said there are only 10 members without power because of electrical issues at their homes. Those issues might include meter bases or weather heads that need to be replaced by an electrician, she said. 

She said that on Saturday morning after the worst damage from the storm, approximately 9,000 members were out of power. But by Tuesday, the utility had largely restored power.

Pacific Power still had roughly 400 customers without power in outlying areas in Marion and Polk counties, according to its website. More than 97% of impacted customers, over 77,000 homes and businesses, are now back in service, the company said in a press release on Thursday afternoon. 

Comcast has restored internet service to 58% of outages in the past 48 hours, according to company spokeswoman Amy Keiter.

Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) did not immediately respond to an email about service restorations Thursday afternoon. 

Salem-Keizer School District again canceled classes and activities for Friday, Feb. 19, with thousands of families remaining without power. Brown bag meals will still be available for pickup. A full list of locations and times is available on the district website.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional information from Pacific Power.

Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

WE GET SALEM THE FACTS. Covering your community with care and depth. Salem Reporter – fair, accurate, independent. Subscribe and support our essential local service.