Power Troubleshooting

Power Problems? We have answers.

Home

For more information about any power quality issues, call PGE’s outage and repair line:

  • 503-464-7777 (Portland)
  • 800-544-1795 (elsewhere)

Q. My lights just blinked. Should PGE come check my service?

No need to call PGE. When lights blink, it generally means an electrical fault has occurred in your area. Usually that’s caused by an animal touching PGE lines or equipment, a car hitting a power pole or people digging into buried conductors. PGE equipment restores power so quickly that all you see is a quick flicker.

Q. My lights flickered for a second, and then I lost power. What should I do?

This generally means a fault occurred in your area and PGE’s automated protection system turned off the power. First check to make sure your main circuit breaker isn’t just tripped. Then, report the outage online via a mobile device or at 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795.

Q. A big storm made my lights flicker several times during the past hour. What should I do?

Large storms often blow tree limbs onto PGE’s power lines, resulting in a fault that creates a power surge. A power surge can damage your electronics and appliances. If you do not have surge protection, you should unplug your more sensitive equipment like televisions and computers to avoid damage.

Q. The power went off at my house. When it was restored, my computer modem (or television) no longer worked. What can I do to protect my equipment in the future?

A fault most likely occurred in your area and shut the power off. If the fault was near your home, it may have damaged your TV or modem. Another possible cause could be a surge when the power was restored. In either case, a modest investment in surge protection can keep your electronics and appliances safe.

Read more Home FAQs.

Office

Most electrical problems in an office result from internal wiring or grounding issues. The rest are related to something external, such as lightning or a car hitting a power pole.

To reduce potentially damaging spikes or power surges, keep in mind this basic rule: Isolate sensitive electronic devices like computers and modems from power-hungry devices like HVAC systems, space heaters, microwaves and laser printers. Surge protectors and uninterruptible power supplies can help.

For help with any power quality or other power-related issues, call your PGE representative or the Business Services Team:

  • Portland: 503-228-6322
  • Salem: 503-399-7717
  • Elsewhere: 800-822-1077

Q. A big storm made our lights flicker several times during the past hour. What should we do?

Large storms often blow tree limbs onto PGE’s power lines, resulting in a fault that creates a power surge. A power surge can damage your electronics and computer systems. If you do not have surge protection, you should unplug your more sensitive equipment to avoid damage.

Q. The power went off at our office. When it was restored, our computer modems no longer worked. What can I do to protect my equipment in the future?

A fault most likely occurred in your area and shut the power off. If the fault was near your home, it may have damaged your equipment. Another possible cause could be a surge when the power was restored. In either case, a modest investment in surge protection can keep your computers and electronics safe.

Q. Our office has fluorescent lights with electronic ballasts that seem to be failing too soon. What should I do?

The average lifespan of an electronic ballast is 50,000 hours, so expect only half of the ballasts to work after this time and some to fail each year.

Electronic ballasts are generally rated to operate within a range of plus or minus 10 percent of the standard voltage. PGE normally maintains your voltage within a range of plus or minus 5 percent, so minor voltage changes should not affect their life.

Equipment failure due to a power surge is a common customer concern, and may also be a factor. Minor power surges occur frequently and most of them originate inside a building. Surge protection is the only good defense.

Q. I have power problems that seem to be related to nearby construction. Who can I call at PGE to verify this?

During construction it is sometimes necessary for PGE to interrupt the power at some locations. Call your PGE representative or PGE Business Services to verify if this is the cause at your location.

Read more Office FAQs.

Facility

With lighting, HVAC systems, computers, refrigeration, machinery and motors all putting demands on your facility’s electrical system, it can be a challenge to maintain a reliable flow of power for smooth operations.

Sometimes, power problems happen externally, like when a storm knocks a tree onto a power line.

But in many cases, the answer lies inside your facility. Your wiring and equipment, and how they interact, all play a role.

For outages, repair or any power problems, contact your PGE representative or call the Business Services Team:

  • Portland: 503-228-6322
  • Salem: 503-399-7717
  • Elsewhere: 800-822-1077

Q. We have a small standby generator that supports critical systems when we have a power outage. We also have small uninterruptible power supplies to support the loads until the generator starts. The UPS does not work correctly when the generator operates. Why not?

Not all UPS systems operate correctly when served by a generator. You can adjust the sensitivity of some UPS units so they work correctly with a small generator. Or you may need to install better controls on the generator before the two can work together.

Some generators do not have quality voltage and frequency regulation, while others cause too much voltage distortion. Each of these problems can cause some UPS systems to cycle their battery until it is depleted.

Be sure to carefully review the specifications of any UPS you want to operate with a generator to ensure they will work together.

Q. One of our large three-phase motors keeps tripping. An electrician told us the motor isn’t drawing the same amount of current on each phase and something must be wrong with the service from PGE. What can PGE do?

Contact us for help. The PGE specification for voltage imbalance measured at your main service is 3 percent or less. Generally, we are below 2 percent.

If the voltage is imbalanced it causes current imbalance in three-phase loads. If there isn’t an equal load on each phase, the voltage imbalance can increase at different locations within your facility.

Q. We have several variable frequency drives that frequently trip during the week, typically between 5 and 6 a.m. Why is this, and how can we prevent it?

If a VFD trips early in the morning, it may be that it is sensitive to what’s known as capacitor switching transients. PGE turns the capacitor banks on and off at the substations to support our customer load requirements.

Some brands of drives (15 HP and smaller) are sensitive to this one-cycle disturbance; newer, larger drives are not as susceptible. The most cost-effective way to reduce this type of nuisance tripping is to install line reactors; contact us for more information.

Read more Facility FAQs.