Roughly 20,000 residents in Salem area still without power going into weekend

A Salem Electric crewman works to repair a power line in west Salem on Sunday, Feb. 14. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Almost a week after snow and ice storms tattered northwest Oregon, nearly 20,000 residents of Marion County are still without power, including 12,000 in Salem itself. 

But during a press call Friday afternoon, Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO, said that the utility was still on track to reduce the total number of customers without power statewide to 15,000 later that evening.

“I want to assure you that we are working around the clock,” said Larry Bekkedahl, PGE’s vice president of grid architecture, integration & systems operations, during the call. “We’re deploying more field workers than ever before in our history.”

He said nearly 225 crews have been dispatched in a system that normally runs 70. 

The Silverton area remains hard hit by the storm with about 2,400 customers without power.  

As of Friday afternoon, there were 756 PGE customers in Polk County without power according to the company’s website. 

The utility also announced a new page on its website that includes a map and estimated restoration times for customers who’ve lost power. For some parts of Salem restoration could take up to five days, according to the website. For outlying areas, restoration could take up to nine days. 

Pope said outlying areas in south Salem and Marion County face particular challenges to restoring power. 

“Some of those are the hardest hit epicenter of the storm and we’ve seen tremendous power poles being knocked down,” she said. “The number of trees that are down in that area is making restoration very, very challenging.”

Salem Electric had restored power for virtually all of its customers Tuesday night. 

Drew Hanson, spokesman for Pacific Power, didn’t have an exact breakdown of customers without power in Marion and Polk counties. But he said the utility is down to its last 1,200 impacted customers in the mid-Willamette Valley from the 80,000 that were initially affected by the storms.

He said the remaining customers are in hard-to-access areas that are hard to access. They should see the lights back on tonight or tomorrow. 

“We will work around the clock until the lights are on,” he said. 

With crews still working to restore power, Gov. Kate Brown extended her emergency declaration for the counties affected by the storm through Feb. 27.

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

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