Power outages are rare. But when they happen, they never happen at a good time. Fortunately, we’re always prepared to act. Here’s a look at a few things you can check in your home and how we prioritize and restore power as quickly as safety allows.
Sure, it may be the whole neighborhood lost power, but it may just be localized to your house. Start by checking all the GFCI outlets. These are usually located in the kitchen, baths or laundry rooms. Then check your breaker box and see if any circuits have tripped. Also, look outside and see if neighbors’ lights are out, too. Pretty basic, but it’s always good to check.
If you’re not the only one without power, report it to us. You can do this on the PGE mobile app, online or by calling 503-464-7777 (Portland), 503-399-7717 (Salem) or 800-544-1795 (elsewhere). We also have an outage map where you can see impacted areas and get updates on when power will be restored.
We work as quickly as safety allows but we prioritize public health and safety facilities such as hospitals, clinics and other utilities like water, sewer, natural gas and telephone. You can also sign up for text alerts that give a time estimate for when power should be restored.
From generation to your home there are several steps on the path. We look first to see if there’s an issue with the generation facility first. If so, we switch over to other resources to keep the power flowing. All that power flows on high voltage transmission lines. These lines serve as superhighways serving hundreds of thousands of customers and a top priority for PGE crews is there’s an issue with them.
The transmission lines flow to substations, the next critical link in the chain. They reduce the high voltage from transmission lines and act as a distribution and switching system to the homes and businesses they serve. From the substation, feeder lines travel to the neighborhoods, typically serving a few thousand customers. Trees during storms and wildlife, like squirrels, can take out a line. Even a car crash can take out a service pole. When there’s an outage, these are usually the most likely culprit.
Tap lines move power from the feeder lines down individual streets. Tap lines serve 20-30 homes, a little less in rural areas. If you see crews in your neighborhood, this is usually what they are assessing or repairing.
It could be that the service line to your house has been damaged. This is the most difficult and time-consuming step. Crews must visit individual homeowners’ property in order to make repairs.
Home generators can be a convenient backup during a power outage when used correctly. Review safety tips to protect yourself and our crews.
Use medical life-support equipment? Have a plan in place and consider a backup generator in case of an extended power outage.