Portland General Electric today warned customers near Mount Hood that it might have to temporarily shut off electricity because of the hot, windy conditions that have elevated fire danger.
Here's what PGE told customers:
We care about the safety of our communities, normally that means ensuring you have a reliable supply of electricity, we do also have contingency plans to temporarily shut off power in certain high risk areas, as a last resort, if fire danger becomes so extreme it's necessary to protect lives and property.
Right now, unfortunately, it looks more and more like that may be the case within the next few days. The forecast calls for extremely dry, warm, windy conditions. We don't want to shut off power, but if it gets to a point where any electrical spark created by debris or tree limbs – or wind damage to our equipment – could ignite a potentially catastrophic wildfire, we need to do what's necessary to help keep our customers safe.
If we end up having to implement a public safety power outage, it will be in a very limited, heavily forested area near Mt. Hood, affecting about 5,000 customers, and we'll restore power as quickly as safety allows. The vast majority of our nearly 900,000 customers won't be involved.
The company provided an interactive map of the areas potentially affected here.
The Oregonian reported earlier today that firefighters are battling a wildfire in Heather Canyon, an area well known to skiers who frequent Mt. Hood Meadows.
Utilities are hyper-aware of fire danger after deadly 2018 fires in California that were blamed on Pacific Gas and Electric, that state's biggest utility. After lawsuits and criminal charges, PG&E (no relation to the Oregon utility) agreed to pay a $13.5 billion settlement. The utility also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from which it emerged in July.