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Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

Truckee Donner Public Utility District Provides Update on Restoration Efforts

California public power utility Truckee Donner Public Utility District recently provided an update on power restoration efforts in the wake of a severe winter storm that recently hit Truckee, Calif.

As of Tuesday, March 5, all primary distribution outages were fixed. Less than 30 customers remained without power, due to outages on secondary lines, as well as outages caused by damage to homeowner’s equipment that require repair by a private electrician. TDPUD continues to assist these customers.

Truckee was hit with a multi-day severe winter storm from Feb. 29-March 3, that brought high winds and heavy snowfall to the area, causing outages for some TDPUD customers.

Significant outages to the primary system began at about 4:30 pm on Friday, March 1. At its peak, TDPUD had about 10% of its total customers out of power. While the storm was at its most extreme, the majority of customers were restored within 6 hours.

Most of the issues were focused in the Donner Lake and Prosser neighborhoods, where falling trees and high winds caused downed lines, equipment damage and a major broken power pole.

In Prosser, the lines down were in areas that are difficult to access which delayed restoration time. In Donner Lake, a pole was splintered by a falling tree, necessitating a full pole replacement. A brief NV Energy transmission line issue caused a 5-minute outage in Tahoe Donner and Donner Lake.

Obstacles to response included roads blocked by snow and fallen trees, winds that were too strong for bucket truck use, and downed lines in backyards and remote areas where bucket truck access was not possible. Linemen had to snowshoe into some locations, carrying all the equipment they needed to climb poles and make repairs. Even utility vehicles equipped with snow tracks struggled in the intense snowfall.

“Due to these obstacles, TDPUD’s electric department got creative and rerouted power through different circuits to isolate the issues and get as many customers as possible back online while they made repairs,” the utility said.

By 11 pm on Friday night, less than 100 customers were without power. But 30 minutes later, wind gusts picked up and knocked down new trees, causing outages for 750 new Sierra Meadows and Donner Lake customers. Most Sierra Meadows customers had power restored before the sun rose the next morning.

"Crews worked for as long as they could each night, braving blizzard conditions. But as winds ramped up nightly and branches and trees fell down around crews, foremen and electric management team made the call to suspend operations for safety reasons," the utility said. It took just over 3 days to complete a pole replacement needed to get power back up in southwest Donner Lake. With feet of snow and ice to dig through to get to the ground, winds that made operating the crane and being in the bucket truck hazardous at times, and a complex configuration of power and communication lines on this particular pole, “it was a complicated project that took time and monumental effort to accomplish.”