Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that Lane Electric Cooperative will receive a $3.72 million federal grant for repairs from the February 2019 snowstorm that left more than 100,000 customers without power and caused severe damage to the utility’s power distribution lines and systems.
“Oregonians who experienced the loss of electricity in their homes and businesses for weeks on end from this winter storm remember all too well the damage this snowfall inflicted on Lane County,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified that FEMA will help Lane Electric and its members recover the financial costs from this storm.”
“Everyone in America should have access to electricity. As we’ve seen during Oregon’s intense winter storms in recent years, and during Texas’ power crisis this year, lives are put at serious risk when that access is lost,” said Merkley. “I’m grateful that the Biden administration is providing grant funding to help Lane Electric cover the costs of critical repairs to power infrastructure that was damaged in the 2019 storm, and will continue to do all that I can to secure the funding we need to expand and protect access to power and other basic utilities, so we can keep our communities safe.”
The $3.72 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help Lane Electric cover repair costs for the winter storm, which the agency noted often required up to almost a month to restore power due to the severity of damages and lack of accessibility due to heavy snow, downed trees, and impassable roadways. In addition to widespread power outages and impassable roads, numerous communication towers went down, further isolating the affected communities.
“Grants like this are essential to financing repairs to our transmission and distribution system after devastating storms like the snowstorm,” said Debi Wilson, General Manager, Lane Electric Co-op. “On behalf of our Cooperative’s 10,400 members, we thank Senators Wyden and Merkley for making a real difference for their checkbooks and our ability to keep rates affordable.”