As of 10 AM this morning, snow continues to fall on Montavilla, adding to the inches accumulated overnight. Tree branches loaded with flowers and new leaves sag heavy under the unexpected snow, some snapping from the increased weight. Power is out for several blocks, with Pacific Power reporting 2417 customers without electricity in the neighborhood. Portland General Electric (PGE) also reports scattered outages in the area.
With Portland Public Schools closing for the day, many families can be seen walking the neighborhood taking in a rare spring snow day. Warmer than freezing temperatures have kept the streets and sidewalks mostly clear of snow and ice. However, transportation authorities advise caution when traveling through the slush. Weather reports indicate the snow will transition to rain later in the day, around noon.
Update: As of 1 PM, Pacific Power reports all customers have power service restored in Montavilla.
Yesterday, DJ’s Electrical employees installed an automatic high-voltage switch on power lines along SE Stark Street. This new equipment allows PGE to manage its power system remotely. As part of this project, workers upsized one utility pole and reworked power lines on SE Stark from 80th Ave to 76th Ave. This work will strengthen the local power supply against the upcoming winter storm season and allow PGE staff to restore power faster in an outage. During construction, traffic cones blocked one lane of traffic on Stark, enabling bucket trucks to work next to the power lines.
Workers replaced power line equipment at several locations in Montavilla town on October 27th. To support new heavy equipment, crews installed a replacement utility pole near the Montavilla Farmers Market. The removed street light pole supported service lines to a local business but otherwise did not connect with the power distribution lines above. In addition to supporting new high-voltage electric switches, the taller and thicker pole is comparable in size to others on the block, adding another support point for the power lines along Stark Street.
Linemen are installing Viper® “recloser” switches along Stark street. These units “detect and interrupt faults in the power line,” explained Jonathan Hutchison, a PGE’s Communications representative. These new network-connected units operate remotely without the need to dispatch technicians to the site when restoring power. Hutchison went on to say that the central management of reclosers is essential to fast power restoration after an incident. “The ability to operate remotely allows for power to be redirected quickly, which reduces the length of outages.”
An employee of DJ’s Electrical working on this project said this team had installed similar equipment at many sites along Stark Street in the past month. As a power line professional, he is impressed with the new technology and its impact on power outage response time. Storm damage can break power lines or cause shorts that trigger an emergency shutoff of large sections in the electrical network. Crews historically had to drive out to the site and manually isolate the damaged area before power could return for most of the affected customers. This remotely controlled system will do the same isolation and re-energization work from the central office, letting linemen focus strictly on repairs.
Stark Street represents the north edge of PGE’s power grid in Montavilla, with Pacific Power operating service for the homes and businesses north of that street. Last winter’s ice storm caused prolonged outages in all areas of the city. With the current investment by PGE, they hope to reduce the impact caused by future storms on their customers. If your power outages seem shorter this season, it may be due to work taking place this Fall.
Work is underway at the Fred Meyer parking lot at 6615 NE Glisan Street. Crews are creating four EV charging stations located near the eastern entrance along NE Glisan Street. Removal of eleven standard parking spaces and one planter island will make way for four EV charging spots. Workers will also create a new fenced equipment island to support charging infrastructure.
Designers submitted permit applications for the charging station at the beginning of the year. However, their permit 21-002507 was approved just last week. As part of this project, landscapers will plant additional shrubbery to conceal the equipment area. The new island is near equal in size to the four EV parking spaces. Fencing around the utility zone will use 8 foot high Trex fencing.
An excavator worked most of Tuesday on preparing the area for the substantial electrical work that will take place. Charging station dispensers stand to the side of the vehicle instead of at the front of the parking spot. This positioning allows for two side-by-side hookups facing opposite directions, concentrating the user-accessible equipment into two clusters. PGE will connect to the charging station via an underground electrical conduit feeding a 750 KVA transformer.
Electrify America manages these new charging spots and bills customers between $0.31 per kWh to $0.43 per kWh. The spaces are reserved for people charging their vehicles. Ten minutes after charging completes, an idle fee of $0.40 per minute is added to the customer’s bill. EV charging maps already show the EV charges at Fred Meyer as “Coming Soon,” indicating that this project will complete quickly.
The addition of EV charges in the area is encouraging for those who own an electric vehicle and nearby businesses that will welcome customers killing time during their charging session. Look for the parking lot at Fred Meyer to be a bit congested as work continues. However, based on current progress, the disruptions should clear up within a few weeks.
UPDATE – Corrected link to electrifyamerica.com July 6th, 2021.
Around 7 AM this morning, a one-block section of East Burnside Street was closed due to downed power lines. Portland Police Officers barricaded both traffic lanes for the 7000 block of the roadway, allowing PGE crews to remove the energized cable safely. Traffic was allowed to pass by 7:50 AM.
Power lines feeding the duplex at 5 NE 71st Ave became dislodged from supporting mounts and fell across E Burnside Street. PGE cut power to several homes during the repairs, still underway. This latest incident is one of many infrastructure disruptions caused by the recent winter storm. Tree limbs damaged by heavy ice continue to fall, causing damage to suspended cables and property. Repair crews are only now catching up with work orders and restoring regular service.
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