Tahoe reports massive power outages
January 11, 2017
By Sierra Sun-Bonanza
UPDATE 7 a.m. WEDNESDAY:
The Sierra Sun spoke by phone with Steven Poncelet, spokesperson for the Truckee Donner PUD, who reported the following:
"We had some outages (Tuesday) and last night that we were working on, then around 9:30 p.m., I got a call that we lost our NV Energy transmission line, and that's the last update I had," Poncelet said at 7 a.m. Wednesday. "We receive our power from NV Energy … from Verdi. That transmission line is no longer supplying power to us."
Poncelet said crews are working this morning to determine more information, but there currently are no estimated times of power restoration.
Internet outages in the region are further hampering efforts.
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"As many of you that live in the regional have found out, there is a widespread power outage. The utility companies are working as quickly as possible to restore power, but there is no estimated time for restoration to all customers," according to a 7:10 a.m. Nixle alert from the Truckee Police Department. "If your cell-phone is your primary means of communications, consider conserving power on devices you would use for emergencies until you can charge the device."
The department added: "Travel should be restricted to only essential needs. We can reach residents in the event of an emergency, however roadways may not have been fully plowed yet and vehicles getting stuck will impact our ability to respond to emergencies. The DPW snow removal schedule throughout the night was heavily impacted by significant snow accumulation and downed trees throughout the community. Crews worked throughout the night to open major roadways in Town but some secondary roads have not been reached. Some roadways could be impassable."
The Sierra Sun will attempt to update this story with information as it develops Wednesday.
The original story from 6:15 a.m. is below.
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Power continues to be out in homes and businesses across much of the Tahoe-Truckee region amid a massive winter storm that's brought blizzard conditions, avalanches, extended highway closures and other hazards.
On Tuesday evening, as residents around Lake Tahoe and Truckee scrambled to post online and determine which parts of the region still had electricity, a post made its way on to personal pages, Facebook groups and even through the old-fashioned grapevine of SMS — better known as text messages.
That viral message varied slightly, but it said:
"Hey!! Passing this on from a friend of a friend who works at the PUD.
Both redundancies that backup the entire north shore and Truckee are down due to mudslides. The only energy source is coming from Verdi. If it goes does, the entire north shore will be our of power for a long, long time (days).
Charge up your phones, collect flashlights candles batteries etc. etc. highly likely that power is going out
Pass it on"
There are obvious similarities between this text and a game of telephone or chain letter only those of us who had AOL will recall, but the message itself is concerning and, if true, a matter of public safety.
Liberty Utilities spokesperson Kathy Carter shed a bit of light on the situation. She said in an email after 1 a.m. Wednesday that the region Liberty serves, meaning areas along the north and west shores of Tahoe and into Truckee, receives its power from 3 power line sources.
"Two of the sources were taken out by mudslides. The remaining line was taken out … by a fallen tree," she said in the email.
With much of Highway 89 shut down Tuesday evening due to an avalanche (no injuries were reported), Carter said Liberty Utilities crews used a snow cat to reach where they believed one of the lines needed repairing. As of 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, the damaged line had been reached and was being assessed.
Carter said if Liberty is able to make repairs, some customers will have power restored by morning, but she wasn't sure yet which ones.
Visit https://california.libertyutilities.com/truckee/residential for updates to the situation.
According to Liberty's online power outage map — accessible here http://bit.ly/2ijjmke — nearly 100 percent of the company's 16,521 customers in Placer County (it's unclear which are specifically in the Tahoe-Truckee region) are without power, in addition to 1,161 in Nevada County with power, and 1,726 n Plumas County without power.
She said other customers who do not have their power restored by the morning should prepare for extended outages. At this time, she said, Liberty Utilities doesn't know how long those outages could last.
As for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, a recorded message on the district's main line indicates power continues to be out for much of Truckee, due to failures in the Truckee, Donner Lake, Tahoe Donner and Martis Valley substations.
Crews have been working the problem since before 10 p.m. Tuesday, but there is no estimated time for restoration.
Unfortunately, the TDPUD's power outage website, accessible via http://www.tdpud.org/about-us/contact-us — has been down since Tuesday evening, so there are no updates there.
In Incline Village, power has been off and on for different parts of the community since Tuesday evening. According to NV Energy, 7,723 customers remained without power as of 6 a.n. Wednesday in Washoe County, although not all are Incline-Crystal Bay residents. Visit https://www.nvenergy.com/outage/view/outagelist_region.cfm for updates.
Power has also been off and on throughout much of the South Lake Tahoe and Meyers regions.
Sierra Sun-Bonanza editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report. We will attempt to update this story with information as it develops Wednesday.