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Coop plans to bury many power lines

On Wednesday, the Lane Electric Coop announced it was "one step closer to helping rebuild the McKenzie community stronger than before," thanks to FEMA committing $19.9 million toward costs to repair and significantly improve infrastructure damaged by the wildfire.

The FEMA grant will help cover crucial expenses associated with building a more resilient power system. This includes undergrounding the majority of the power lines in the McKenzie area. Undergrounding helps mitigate the extreme weather risks above ground power lines are susceptible to, such as wind, snow, ice, and landslides as well as reducing system maintenance and overall upkeep.

Currently, more than half of Lane Electric’s distribution system (754 miles of line) is underground, which is significantly higher than the national average. With the funding from FEMA, officials say they will not only plan to bury power lines in the McKenzie area, but will continue to explore options to underground more lines each year throughout their entire service territory.

“Grants like this are essential to financing repairs to our transmission and distribution system after devastating events like the Holiday Farm Fire. On behalf of our Cooperative’s 10,400 members, we thank Senators Wyden and Merkley for their diligent work to make a real difference in our community. Lane Electric is committed to rebuilding our community stronger than before,” according to utility General Manager, Debi Wilson.

"While we are eager to start the rebuilding process, we are committed to doing so effectively. We enlisted a local engineering firm to create a plan for building an even more resilient system. Additionally, we are collaborating with Lane County Emergency Management to finalize our plan and discuss more ways to mitigate risks for the community. Furthermore, we’re engaging other utility providers to explore bringing their services underground with us."

Wilson said it’s important to note the rebuilding efforts will come at no cost to coop members.


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