Building for the Future

Our substation, communications, and meter operations serve our entire District from this facility in the South Beach neighborhood of Newport. Unfortunately, this location, which was built after World War II, is in the tsunami inundation zone.

According to Dr. Chris Goldfinger, Professor of Marine Geology at Oregon State University, the Oregon Coast is due for an earthquake: “There have been 41 earthquakes of 8.0 to 9.2 magnitude in the past 10,000 years,” he says. “If [one] happened today, it could have a devastating impact.” On average, major earthquakes happen here about every 240 years or so – and the last one was in 1700. Keeping this startling fact in mind, Central Lincoln’s board and staff are quite focused on disaster readiness.

A facilities consultant recently reviewed each of our buildings, and our South Beach facility was determined to be highly vulnerable in the event of a tsunami or earthquake, putting employees, vehicles, key equipment, and materials at risk. Our communications, meter, and substation crews serve the entire District from this location. The consultant concluded all of our operations housed in South Beach must be relocated.

Following an extensive search for an available site that was large enough, geologically sound, and on high ground, our board of directors voted to purchase a group of adjoining properties in the northern part of Newport. A design team went to work, proposing energy-efficient space that will be 10% smaller than our existing facility in South Beach, due to more effective planning. A former plumbing supply building on the property will be remodeled, rather than torn down, to save money.

“I can’t emphasize enough how critical this facility will be to Central Lincoln’s ability to restore power after an earthquake or major disaster,” says Debra Smith, Central Lincoln’s General Manager. “Without it, getting power flowing again to our customers could be delayed for months.”

The new Operations Center project will cost an estimated $27.7 million.  A contract manager/general contractor, Lease Crutcher Lewis, will manage the project, and is hoping qualified subcontractors (small and large) will bid on portions of work that will begin next month, and continue through August of next year. Lease Crutcher Lewis is encouraging licensed and bonded subcontractors in construction, excavation, concrete, electrical, plumbing, metal fabrication, sheet metal, flashing, flooring, tile, drywall, painting, finish carpentry, landscaping, and related fields to bid.  Those interested may email Project Manager Tanner Perrine at or by calling him at 503-969-0202. Lease Crutcher Lewis has significant experience constructing buildings for the utility industry.

We also looked at our other District facilities, assessing vulnerability.  Fortunately, our Florence location is not in the tsunami inundation zone, but is not as efficient as we would like; we may need to reconfigure it in the future.

Our Reedsport locations are at risk. Reedsport is nine “river miles” from the Pacific Ocean, and may or may not be affected by a tsunami event. But, this city is located on the Umpqua River, and has been vulnerable in the past, experiencing some flooding due to capacity issues and the age of the city’s stormwater systems.

Reedsport officials have developed an 1,800-page Reedsport Resiliency Plan, and are pursuing funding to support various Plan initiatives, which include replacing 50-year-old pumps for flood control. “We have a ‘100 year flood’ every ten years or so, but due to the city’s levee system we have been protected,” says City Manager Jonathan Wright. Central Lincoln supports the city’s efforts, including a tsunami evacuation drill last month, and stormwater systems upgrades.

Because damage from earthquakes and tsunamis can vary tremendously, it would be impossible to plan for every potential loss – roads and bridges may collapse, and key transportation routes may be devastated. We are reviewing every portion of our District – all ten cities and the areas around them – to determine the most strategic locations for emergency supplies and materials.

We want to be as prepared as possible to serve you after a disaster. “We’ve been encouraging our customers to be ready for evacuation, and for sheltering in place in case of a major emergency,” says Debra. “We can’t emphasize it enough: The question isn’t ‘if’ a disaster happens. It’s ‘when.'”

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PO Box 1126
2129 N. Coast Hwy
Newport, OR 97365
Phone: (541) 265-3211
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