As summer weather grows hotter and drier, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC) is encouraging member-owners to prepare for a potentially extended wildfire season. Fire-weather conditions, such as severe drought combined with summer windstorms or active wildfires, could lead to safety-related outages in OTEC identified high risk areas. Members with active meters in high risk areas have been notified via written letter and will receive communications in the event of an outage.
“We continue to build our system to be more resilient long term – for all seasons and weather conditions – providing reliability and value for our members for years to come,” said Eric Wirfs, OTEC’s Director of Operations. “We invest annually across our service territory in wildfire mitigation upgrades, including round-the-clock reporting on weather conditions, updating portions of our system with fire-resistant equipment; and using technology to monitor our system, while increasing inspections and vegetation maintenance on our lines.”
OTEC member-owners can visit otec.coop/wildfire-preparedness for resources and information including wildfire preparation tips, links to your county’s emergency notification systems, an interactive map outlining potential public safety power shutoff areas and the cooperative’s 2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.
OTEC will be holding four town halls open to member-owners to discuss the cooperative’s wildfire mitigation plan. The one-hour meetings will be held in Burns and John Day on Thursday, August 18th and the Baker City and La Grande on Friday, August 19th.
Harney County Town Hall: Thursday, August 18th at 9:00am. Located at the Burns Fire Department, 242 N. Broadway Avenue, Burns, OR 97720
Grant County Town Hall: Thursday, August 18th at 3:00pm. Located at the John Day Fire Department, 316 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR 97845
Baker County Town Hall: Friday, August 19th at 9:00am. Located at the Baker Rural Fire Protection District Station, 3855 23rd St. Baker City, OR 97814
Union County Town Hall: Friday, August 19th at 2:00pm. Located at the La Grande Fire Department, 1806 Cove Ave., La Grande OR 97850
Stay in the Know
Even as OTEC and other electric utilities partner with federal, state, and local agencies to plan for wildfire season, preparedness is a shared responsibility. Helpful information is available to help every OTEC member-owner take steps to plan ahead and be ready for wildfires and wildfire-related power outages.
OTEC Member-owners can take simple steps to make sure they receive wildfire-related information.
- Call OTEC at 541-523-3616 or log in to your account on otec.coop and make sure all contact information is current. That way, OTEC can send alerts and messages if a safety-related outage may occur. OTEC also highly recommends members sign up to “Opt In” to receive information via text messages. Members can do that by texting “START” to 352667.
Make an Outage Kit
- Prepare a home outage kit in the event wildfire leads to a power outage. Be sure to include shelf-stable food, water for household members, pets and any livestock, necessary medications, flashlights, batteries and solar or car chargers for electric devices.
- Businesses should prepare to minimize disruption, keep employees safe and protect equipment. Outage kits should include flashlights or camp lights for all areas, including restrooms, battery-powered or hand-crank radios for information, battery-powered fans, extra batteries, car chargers for cell phones and electric devices, bottled water, and emergency phone numbers.
Have a Plan
- Consider options to relocate with a friend, family member or shelter, especially if a medical condition, medication, or equipment requires electricity.
- Businesses should communicate their outage response plan to key employees, plan for workarounds for computers or cash registers, and create a plan to bypass electronic door locks.
- Homes and businesses should consider buying backup generators and follow manufacturer's safety guidelines.
- Make a plan for watering livestock if well pumps are without power.
- Know how to open and close electric garage doors and security gates manually.
- Learn how to protect home and business electronics and appliances against data loss and potential surge damage when power is restored.