Winter weather leaves thousands in the dark

More than 20 poles down, Truckee Donner Public Utility District works to restore power

While this week’s winter weather provided another round of much needed snow to the Truckee-Tahoe area, it also left thousands of residents in the dark.

Howling winds and heavy snowfall resulted in more than 20 utility poles needing replacement, affecting around 3,500 customers in the Truckee Donner Public Utility District service area.

“You can imagine what it’s like to try and put poles back in during the middle of a snowstorm,” said Truckee Emergency Services Coordinator Robert Womack during Tuesday’s Town Council Meeting.

Donner Lake, Tahoe Donner, and Prosser Lakeview are among areas in Truckee hardest hit by outages. Additionally, Womack said the town has had several calls about downed lines in roads and remote locations around Truckee.

“For safety reasons, people should not think they are communications lines,” cautioned Womack. “They shouldn’t just assume, ‘well, I’ll go grab it and move it out of the roadway,’ because there’s potential it’s not a phone or cable line.’”

Further complicating matters, NV Energy, which transmits power to Truckee Donner Public Utility District, also experienced outages on its end, resulting in additional delays in power restoration.

In order to help with getting power fully restored to the area, Truckee Donner Public Utility District called upon its sister utility district from Roseville, which brought two crews up earlier this week to help in reenergizing the system.

“We’re grateful for our sister utility,” said Truckee Donner Public Utility District Public Information and Strategic Affairs Director Steven Poncelet.

As of Thursday morning, roughly 1,350 customers within the Truckee Donner Public Utility District were without power, mostly in the Donner Lake, Tahoe Donner, and Prosser Lakeview areas. A new outage also occurred Wednesday night in the Sierra Meadows area. The district has teamed with Wright Tree Service to help address the “significant amount of downed trees,” said officials in a Thursday morning update.

Customers, mostly in the Donner Lake area, should be prepared for additional days without power, according to Poncelet.

“We’re still assessing some of the more remote areas of Donner Lake,” said Poncelet. “We’re doing restoration, but we’re also having to spend resources and time with access and removing trees just to get there.”

For those without power and a secondary source of heat, freezing pipes have become another concern of the district.

“If your house is approaching freezing, you should strongly consider turning off the water to the house and winterizing it,” added Poncelet.

Outages and downed power lines should be reported to Truckee Donner Public Utility District at 530-587-3896.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at

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