Summer may bring proactive Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Learn about PSPS, see whether you’re in a high-risk area and get ready for wildfire season no matter where you are.
As Oregon’s weather gets hotter and drier, wildfires can hit suddenly and grow quickly and create a greater likelihood of summer safety-related power outages. We’re preparing and we urge you to prepare as well.
The safety of our customers and community is always our first priority.
If extreme weather conditions threaten our ability to safely operate the electrical grid, we will turn off power in certain high-risk areas to help protect public safety. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff, or PSPS. A Public Safety Power Shutoff is a last-resort safety measure. We consider wind speed, temperature, humidity, the dryness of trees and brush, field observations by our crews, as well as information from local fire departments when we’re deciding whether a PSPS is needed. If we do need to call a PSPS, we work to minimize the number of customers affected and the amount of time they are without power. And, we’ll keep you informed about what is happening and what to expect from us by communicating across a wide range of channels.
The teal areas below show the zones in our service territory that are currently at a higher risk for a safety-related outage. This interactive map can help you learn more about these areas. Click on a zone to see more information, or enter your address in the box on the upper right to pinpoint your location so you can see if you are in a higher-risk area. We’re continuously improving our equipment and are always working to reduce the number of customers impacted. So, areas that are at a higher risk for a PSPS may change. This map will update throughout the wildfire season, with additional details and information. Learn how we identified these higher-risk areas.
For us, being prepared is a year-round effort to protect people, property and natural environments.
Our crews regularly inspect our poles and equipment and make necessary modifications or replacements to reduce the risk of a spark. For example, we’ve installed metal poles and fiberglass cross-arms that are fire-resistant.
Over that past few years, we’ve increased funding and resources for our program to inspect, trim and remove more trees and shrubs that could cause trouble with our transmission lines. This adds to our already robust line-clearing and tree trimming program that actively manages more than 2 million trees along 12,000 miles of overhead power lines.
What happens during a PSPS? Why are we doing them? How did we decide where they are? You’ve got questions, here are the answers you’re looking for.
What are the new PSPS areas PGE has identified?
We identified certain areas based on updated wildfire risk modeling that was completed after the 2020 wildfire season. Our equipment in these areas serves parts of the Mt. Hood Corridor and foothills, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon City, Estacada, Scott’s Mills, Portland West Hills and the Tualatin Mountains. As we continue to develop and improve our wildfire mitigation work, we're partnering with local, state and federal agencies to inform our plans.
How will I know if I’m in an area that could be impacted by a PSPS?
If you are in the areas highlighted, you are in a PSPS area, and your risk is higher for a safety-related outage during wildfire season. However, even areas outside the PSPS area could be impacted in the event we call for a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
Will the PSPS affect my entire city or county? How many customers will be impacted?
No. We’ve identified specific areas that are at greater wildfire risk. We’ve also been able to section off high-risk areas to reduce the total number of people affected.
Why was my area designated as a PSPS area?
We identified certain areas based on updated wildfire risk modeling that was completed after the 2020 wildfire season. This risk modeling evaluates thousands of scenarios to assess the chance that PGE equipment could cause a spark and the consequences of that in a specific location – considering vegetation, humidity, wind speeds, etc.
When would PGE call a PSPS? What criteria does PGE consider when deciding whether to shut power off?
The safety of our customers and community is always our first priority. If extreme weather conditions threaten our ability to safely operate the electrical grid, we will turn off power to help protect public safety and property. Many factors go into the decision to call a PSPS. We work closely with city, county and local emergency management organizations and we evaluate things like wind speed, moisture levels in trees/brush, temperature, humidity, as well as observations from the field by our crews before taking this proactive measure.
How will I know if I will be impacted by a PSPS?
It’s important that we have your updated contact information so we can communicate with you about a PSPS. We will send emails about a PSPS to impacted customers. In addition, it’s important that you sign up for FEMA alerts and your county’s emergency alerts. We’ll also share outage information, including updates and status of Public Safety Power Shutoffs, on portlandgeneral.com, through our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and via news outlets including radio, television and newspapers. We will also take extra measures to reach out to Medical Certificate customers.
How far in advance will businesses and residential customers be notified prior to shutoff?
Before we call a PSPS, we'll make every effort to provide 24 to 48 hours of advance notice to all customers and community members who may be impacted, and to provide another notice within one to four hours of when we may need to de-energize an area. While that may seem like a lot of time, it’s very important that you prepare for an outage sooner, while store shelves are well-stocked and you can practice your emergency plans.
How will PGE communicate with customers before and during a PSPS – especially those who may lose power?
We reach out to impacted customers – especially those who may lose power – in several ways, including by email, posting information on portlandgeneral.com and on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). We are also working with local officials to send emergency notification text messages.
Will a Community Resource Center be available in every PSPS zone?
In the 2020 wildfires, our CRC proved to be a very valuable community resource, providing ice, water for people in bottles and larger containers, charging for personal electronic devices and Wi-Fi access. We will continue to have a CRC when a PSPS is called in higher risk areas.
We’re identifying multiple CRC locations and will include these locations in our communications in the event of a PSPS. Multiple PSPS areas may be served by a shared CRC. Our goal is to make sure CRC locations are accessible, functionally appropriate for a diverse range of needs, near public transportation and otherwise easy to find.
Are there any critical facilities that may be impacted by a PSPS in my city or county – such as police/fire stations, city hall, hospitals, water/wastewater treatment plants, assisted living facilities, etc.?
Many of these critical facilities plan for the possibility of a power outage and have a backup power source and a contingency plan for that very reason. Still, we are working with facilities like fire stations, medical centers, water treatment facilities to confirm their resiliency plans and make sure they are prepared for the possibility of an extended outage if a PSPS is required.
What about medically fragile customers and those who provide care to vulnerable populations?
There is no way to guarantee any home or facility will never experience an outage. That’s why we encourage customers with medical needs and facilities that care for vulnerable populations and depend on electricity for medical equipment to have a backup source of power and contingency plans in the event of an outage.
If you have, or care for someone with, significant health needs that require electricity, please let us know and apply for a medical certificate.
Customers enrolled in our Medical Certificate program will get additional phone calls from our Customer Service Advisors before and during a PSPS. If you have a medical need, we encourage you to enroll in our Medical Certificate program today so our CSAs can partner to help you during a PSPS.
How long could power be out if a PSPS affects me?
We work to restore power as quickly as safety allows.
When the threat of wildfire has passed, our crews need to visually check the lines for damage from wind-blown debris or any other problems before the power is safely turned on. It’s hard to predict how long this might take, because it depends on how many miles of equipment our crews need to inspect, the terrain they have to cover (mountain terrain, rocky areas, etc.) and the amount of damage they discover. We also ensure areas are safe for our crews before they can begin inspection, and for their safety, crews only patrol during daylight hours.
Because these safety-related outages could last several hours or multiple days, it’s important that you have an emergency plan in place.