A nearly three foot long icicle hangs from a gutter in Gales Creek on Feb. 15, 2021. Photo: Chas Hundley

As hundreds of thousands of Oregonians grapple with extended power losses throughout the Willamette Valley, some have had no choice but to find lodging at hotels with electricity to survive cold temperatures.

But some lodging businesses have been reported to raises their prices to take advantage of families forced to seek their services, a practice known as price gouging, which is illegal in Oregon.

To combat the behavior, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 21-03, which declares an "abnormal market disruption" across the state as a result of the President's Day weekend winter storm.

The executive order is the second issued as a result of the storm, the first declaring an emergency in nine counties largely within the Willamette Valley.

“We appreciate Oregon’s lodging businesses that have provided warmth and shelter to families without power due to the President’s Day weekend storm that hit much of the state," said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. "However, price gouging is illegal. Please consider this a clear message to businesses that you may not raise the price of lodging, or any other goods or services, due to increased demand from this storm. If anyone feels they have been the victim of price gouging, please contact our Consumer Protection Hotline right away.” 

“During a time when so many Oregonians have been without power for days, it is absolutely unacceptable to price gouge those who are seeking a warm, safe place to stay until power is back on in their homes,” said Brown. "This order empowers the Attorney General and the Oregon Department of Justice to investigate these instances and take appropriate action if businesses are found to be in violation.”

Those who believe they've been subjected to price gouging for lodging or essential goods can contact the Oregon Department of Justice through the Consumer Protection Hotline at 877-877-9392, or visit www.OregonConsumer.gov for more information.

The order adds to two existing and active executive orders that have also declared abnormal market disruptions, EO 20-15 and EO 20-57, for the COVID-19 pandemic and the Labor Day wildfires.