Portland General Electric

Willamette Valley Ice Storm Emergency Work

At 6 a.m. on February 13, 2021, Wilson received a call from Portland General Electric (PGE) requesting assistance from Wilson crews. Throughout the night of February 12 and into the early morning of February 13, the Willamette Valley, including the Portland Metro Area, had been battered by the worst ice storm in more than 40 years.

High winds, freezing rain, snow, and frigid temperatures had decimated PGE’s electrical infrastructure, leaving hundreds of thousands of their customers without electricity. PGE called Wilson to ask that we lend our crews in helping to restore power to these unfortunate residents. Wilson responded by sending a total of 18 crews from California and Washington to assist PGE.

The first crews reached the scene on the evening of February 13, and Wilson crews continued to arrive through February 20. Met with everything from downed wires to damaged transformers, Wilson’s crews set to work restoring power. Many crews began with an initial shift exceeding 35 hours before transitioning into multiple 17-plus-hour shifts over the following days. This was despite the persistently nasty weather, which continued to be cold and wet even after the ice storm had passed.

In the end, Wilson crews had taken part in a monumental effort to restore a vital utility to residents and businesses throughout the Willamette Valley.  According to PGE, 400 crews, including Wilson’s, helped restore power to more than 420,000 of their customers. Ultimately, this workforce repaired 44 transmission lines, 20 substations, and 256 feeders. They issued more than 866,000 feet of new wire and cable, 1,146 new transformers, 984 poles, and 3,370 crossarms. And, in total, they restored 401 miles of transmission lines.