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Oregon power companies make progress on restoring electricity Wednesday

Just under 20,000 PGE and Pacific Power customers were still in the dark at around 7:15 p.m., down from combined peaks of more than 150,000 during Tuesday's storm.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Editor's note: The video above aired Tuesday evening.

The storm that hammered northwest Oregon Monday and Tuesday is over, but tens of thousands of residents were still without power through most of Wednesday as utility crews worked to repair the widespread damage that the heavy wind inflicted on power lines.

Portland General Electric's outage map showed about 15,700 customers still without power in the Portland and Salem metro areas as of about 7:15 p.m., and Pacific Power showed about 3,800 customers without power at the same time, mostly in southern Oregon around Grants Pass.

In southwest Washington, Clark Public Utilities showed only 44 customers without power at about the same time Wednesday evening, with almost 9,200 more listed as "recently restored."

Those totals for PGE and Pacific Power are a big improvement from each utility's peak outage level during the storm Tuesday, when Oregon achieved the dubious distinction of being the worst state in the country for power outages at the time.

Credit: Portland General Electric

PGE's outage map showed a high point of about 117,000 customers without power shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, and Pacific Power said in a news release Tuesday evening that it had peaked at nearly 50,000 customers without power earlier in the day. 

Both utilities were already improving by Tuesday night; PGE's total was down to about 81,500 customers at about 8:20 p.m., and Pacific Power was down to about 18,000. The two utilities had a combined total of about 45,000 customers without power as of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

In a news release Tuesday evening, PGE director of utility operations Dale Goodman said the utility had more than 600 personnel out in the field, but the ongoing winds Tuesday afternoon were hampering repair efforts, and that it would take more time to assess damage and restore power.

Credit: Portland General Electric

Pacific Power reported at about 8:30 p.m. that the winds had begun to die down, and said its crews would be working through the night to reconnect customers. In an update late Wednesday morning, the utility said crews had made "outstanding" progress overnight.

Most of the outages listed on PGE's map do not appear to show estimated times for reconnection. PGE did not give a specific time estimate for full reconnection when KGW reached out Wednesday morning, saying only that damage to the grid was widespread and the utility is working to restore power for all customers "as quickly as safety allows."

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