Outages may be more common in Western Nevada | RecordCourier.com

Outages may be more common in Western Nevada

Trees growing up into utility lines in Genoa
Kurt Hildebrand

With Western Nevada’s wild and wooly weather, power outages can be a weekly occurrence.

On Tuesday, a bird flying around in a substation knocked out power to nearly 2,500 Douglas County residents, mostly at Stateline.

Less than 24 hours earlier, NV Energy representatives were in Gardnerville talking about the new emergency power management program designed to prevent power lines from setting fires in extreme weather events.

Tuesday’s outage prompted the Fox and Hound on Kingsbury to fire up their generator, whose exhaust ignited one of the walls, setting a fire. Fortunately, the restaurant’s sprinkler system kicked in preventing more damage, but it was a reminder of potential hazards that come along with outages.

On Monday, NVEnergy’s BJ Viglione spoke to Genoa residents about the company’s vegetation program.

He said the company’s contractors trim trees to keep branches out of the power lines, and prevent fires and electrocutions.

“Trees and power lines just don’t mix well,” Viglione said at the Genoa Town Board. “It’s not good for anybody, it causes fires and electrocutions.”

He pointed out that most power lines are not insulated and even having a branch in the vicinity could result in arcing.

He acknowledged that people think the company takes too much from the trees when trimming.

“People think we take too much out of the tree,” he said. “The problem is that trees sway in the wind. Power lines sway in the wind.”

Viglione said that the standard is to remove 10 feet from a tree, but they sometimes take more out of faster growing trees like cottonwoods and elms.

He encouraged residents to recognize that planting a fast-growing tree under a power line could lead to the tree being “hammered.”

He said that’s when they do V-shaped cuts, or something known as the praying hands.

“We don’t like doing that to a tree, but it’s the only thing we have left when tree is directly under the line,” he said.

Viglione said the company’s contractors probably won’t be cutting in Genoa until September because they’re busy at Lake Tahoe.

Like Lake Tahoe, parts of Nevada’s oldest town are in the tier 3 fire area, and could be subject to having the power shut off should weather analysts determine its necessary.

That might result in residents and businesses purchasing generators, which carry their own safety concerns, such as fuel, exhaust and carbon monoxide.

“Power outages maybe more frequent,” Tahoe-Douglas Fire Marshal Eric Guevin said. “Prepare and always use generators safely per manufacture instructions and maintain setbacks from buildings.”