Who’s paying for Sherwood’s power-surge damage?

5-22-13-power outage
A May 22, 2013, power surge in Washington County prompted dozens of calls to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue with reports of meters -- like this one -- being blown off homes. (KOIN 6 News)

TUALATIN, Ore. (KOIN) — The lights are back on in Sherwood, but there are still unanswered questions after Wednesday’s power surge.

A tree limb fell on a Sherwood PGE transmission line during Wednesday’s rain storm, severing a high-voltage line and sending out a surge of power from the source into homes served by the line.

Sherwood homeowners had damaged appliances, furnaces needing new electrical panels, dishwashers no longer working, fried electronics. Many people had surge protectors on equipment like computers and TVs. But now those protectors also need to be replaced.

Roughly 15,000 people in Washington County also were without power after the surge.

So does PGE have a responsibility to prevent what happened, when it’s a PGE line that came down? And who picks up the cost for this damage?

PGE customer service in Tualatin received many calls Wednesday night and Thursday morning from irate customers wanting PGE to pay for the damages from the power surge. PGE told people that, since this was a weather event, it’s not their responsibility.

“We have an amazing tree trimming program, and that tree was looked at last year,” said Michaela Lynn with PGE. “It was healthy; there was nothing to indicate that tree was a problem.”

They’re telling homeowners to call their insurance companies for replacement items or repairs.

PGE is responsible for the electrical meters that were burned or blown off homes during the power surge. On Wednesday PGE reported that workers identified about 20 meters damaged by the power surge. Those are being replaced.

Meanwhile, residents can take precautions for a future power surge. Surge protectors are one precaution. There’s also a whole-home protector, known as a Surge Trap, that can be installed by an electrician into a home’s breaker box. Another tip: Keep electronics unplugged when you are not home or not using them.

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