EWEB stressing preparedness
May 9, 2019
LEABURG: $2 million and $12,000 were some of the price tags that came up during the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s upriver meeting last month. Both numbers were related to February’s snowstorm that knocked out power to 20,000 of the utility’s customers, including some 7,000 in the McKenzie River area.
Gerry Aster, a Goodpasture Road resident since ‘96, told the gathering she’d spent years likely earning a “crazy tree lady” note next to her name because of her calls about tree trimming. She criticized the practice saying most trees would die after being topped. Aster also noted the McKenzie Highway is a state Scenic Byway and said trees along it that had been halfway cut away were “an abomination” aesthetically.
The $2 million figure was what it had cost per mile to put power lines underground in new subdivisions, according to EWEB board member Dick Helgeson. Doing that on a large scale he felt, would likely, “run the rate up to a point where we’d have major issues with our customers.”
Rod Price, EWEB’s chief engineering and operations officer, said the utility would continue with trimming trees along power lines, at a cost of about $12,000 per mile. This year’s work, he added, will include fire inspections, in part as a response to the problems in California. “We’ll make sure we’ve cleaned off as much as we possibly can,” he said.
Price also said EWEB is planning to change the way their wires are strung. Currently, power poles have two installed on each end of a cross arm. Plans call for eliminating the arm and mounting one wire on top of the pole and placing a neutral wire below it. That configuration, Price said, is expected to reduce the likelihood of a falling branch breaking the lines by ”more than 60 percent.”
Image: EWEB’s Rod Price said plans to “harden up” powerlines along the McKenzie corridor will include removing crossarms from power poles.