Truckee braces for potential power outages

Officials weigh in on what to expect, preparedness during town hall

As fire season ramps up, locals in the Truckee area will be faced with potential power outages from NV Energy.

Much like PG&E’s model, which provides power to Donner Summit consumers, NV Energy plans to kill power to the area in response to extreme fire danger.

“This is going to happen, in my opinion, this year,” said Steven Poncelet, Truckee Donner Public Utility District public information officer during a Tuesday town hall meeting. “So, we need to be ready.”

The district is dependent upon NV Energy for power, and there is no power generated locally. NV Energy’s de-energization program was announced in May, and will affect the entire Truckee area if conditions call for power being turned off.

“When we lose transmission, we will lose our entire system,” added Poncelet.

A shutoff of a few minutes will likely mean power for Truckee will be out for a day as crews from NV Energy and the district work to inspect roughly 200 miles of the area’s system before power can be turned back on.

“That inspection will likely take up to a day,” said Poncelet. “People need to be prepared for at least 24 hours.”

Among other concerns brought up during the town hall meeting were land lines and cell towers going down, individuals with medical needs, traffic lights, railroad crossings, gas station pumps, and others.

“People need to be ready for multi-day power outages,” said Poncelet.

A planned power outage will be announced a day or two ahead of time, and then again at four to 12 hours before power is turned off. Those in sectors, like the lodging industry, will be faced with warning customers ahead of time of an outage, risking canceled bookings for an outage that may or may not occur.

“It’s unfortunate because you’re left with the crying wolf phenomenon, and people mitigated and suffered losses they didn’t need to suffer,” said Poncelet. “But, that’s probably better than doing something unsafe that you didn’t have to do. It’s an NV Energy question. It’s their decision. PUD has no control over that.”

Poncelet said NV Energy’s model tops out roughly 10 days out, but the district plans on waiting until about two days out to announce power may go out as a way to mitigate uncertainties relating to a potential outage.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643

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