Incline Village residents irked over frequent power outages
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Power outages have been frequent in Incline Village over the past several months and residents have been turning to social media, the fire department and general improvement district to share their experiences to try to get resolution.
Indra Winquest, general manager of IVGID, said he got involved to try to help get information disseminated through the board to the community and hopes to work more closely with NV Energy on education and communication of the efforts going on.
On Sept. 16, Marsha Wagner Tejeda, a 30-year resident of Incline, posted a letter on Facebook that they had received from NV Energy. The apology and letter, in Tejeda’s opinion, were far overdue following two months of erratic and extensive outages with no communication. The letter, which was sent after a blackout that occurred Friday, Sept. 16, addressed the wildfire risk mitigation work and construction in progress.
NV Energy Vice President of Electric Delivery Jesse Murray told the Tribune that the outages are actually for the greater good and overall safety of the community.
As part of the national disaster protection plan, NV Energy is cultivating plans to put underground approximately 2 miles of line, specifically in the Incline Village area. Severe topography and geography make undergrounding the entirety of the system impossible, according to Murray.
The additional work occurring on the North Shore involves the redundancy lines, installing covered conductors, replacing wooden poles with ductile iron ones and rebuilding entire sections of line.
Murray explained, “Power redundancy is a back up plan for the community in the event that one main line goes down.”
According to the letter, the outage this Friday was “possibly caused by an animal coming in contact with the single line that was providing power to the area. There was no backup line in service because it is being worked on to improve fire safety and reliability.”
Two electrical feeds exist to ensure the supply in Incline Village and the western Nevada line is currently being rebuilt which leads to unplanned outages in addition to the planned ones. Unfortunately for residents, outages are expected to persist as the work continues through the end of October.
Tia Rancourt, North Lake Tahoe Fire District public education/information officer, said “People may think the forested areas are healthy, but many areas are not. When you see the tree stands thick as thieves, that is not healthy. A healthy forest has a separation between trees like what we see in photos from the 1800’s.”
This observation of the forest coupled with the increase in devastation from wildfire, such as the Camp Fire in Paradise, has urged NV Energy to be proactive with changes to the grid for safety.
Rancourt added, “That is why we are constantly working with our agency partners to collectively mitigate and reduce hazardous fuels.”
“One of the reasons the outages are extended time periods are due to enhanced protocols to patrol the lines presenting the issue prior to re-energizing. This is to help avoid unnecessary risks for wildfires,” Murray said.
Defensible space projects have been a focus for the mountain community agencies. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency recently acknowledged the good work done by NLTFD and NV Energy. In August the two were collectively awarded the “Best in Basin” for best defensible space and forest health project.
The agencies involved share the overarching goal of creating a safer and more resilient neighborhood. Even still, all parties involved agree that communication and education are two things that could use further attention.
Winquest emphasized this point by saying, “When communication is lacking, the community speculates which encourages fear to spread.”
While IVGID does not have any control over the processes and actions of NV Energy, Winquest said he is dedicated to working with the power company in an effort to increase education and communication, thereby reducing fear.
Murray urged all customers of NV Energy to do their part in making sure all contact information and contact preferences are updated. This will ensure outage alerts are received Outage alerts can be sent via call, text and/or email, based on preference, and provide information and updates when an unplanned outage occurs.
To update, visit nvenergy.com/myaccount
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