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Oregon Could Break Records For Power Consumption During Heat Wave

<p>A bicyclist cools off by riding through a fountain in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, May 14, 2014.</p>

A bicyclist cools off by riding through a fountain in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, May 14, 2014.

Residents across Oregon are experiencing power outages as people combat the heat with fans and air conditioning.

Portland General Electric reported Tuesday that 3,667 customers were without power. More than 3,500 of those customers are in Multnomah County.

Pacific Power reports 190 customers are without power by Tuesday afternoon.

And the Bonneville Power Administration anticipated the demand could break their record for peak summertime electricity consumption. The previous record of 7,861 megawatts was set July 16, 2014. According to historical weather data, Medford, Oregon reached a high of 102 degrees that day following several near-100 days.

"The goal is to be as prepared as possible so if something does occur we can quickly restore delivery of power where needed to meet demand," said Janet Herrin, BPA's chief operating officer.

Power outages occur when overheated equipment doesn’t have an opportunity to cool off, either due to high demand or environmental temperature. The heat can also make power lines sag into foliage and foreign objects, causing them to short out.

Because the temperature isn’t likely to cool off much at night, power companies are expecting more outages as the week goes on.

“Our system is designed to serve peak power demand,” said Steve Corson, a spokesman for PGE. “We really treat this as if it were a heat storm — just the way we would an ice storm or a wind storm in the winter.”

Power companies have deployed standby generators to help mitigate some of the power demand and extra cooling systems to help cool essential distribution equipment.

PGE recommends customers prepare for a potential power outage by having meals readily prepared and freezing water in plastic storage bags to keep food cool during a power outage. The agency also recommends locating somewhere to go in case the power does go out.

Power outages can be tracked on your electricity provider's website.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kasey Colton