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Incline power remains limited

Patricia Hickson

INCLINE VILLAGE – The power supply to the North Shore from Tahoe City to Incline Village is expected to remain limited into Friday.

Incline Village will continue to operate on a backup system as crews work around the clock to access and repair three power poles and a 120,000-volt transmitter line from Carson Valley.

The line was damaged by storms last weekend. Sierra Pacific Power officials said the remote backcountry location of the damaged lines, combined with 4 to 6 feet of new snow, has made repairs especially difficult.

“You have to go in four miles on snowshoes or with a Sno-Cat or snowmobile to access these lines,” said Sierra Pacific Public Information officer Karl Walquist.

“The area is so inaccessible we can’t get the big trucks that dig holes in there … which means we might have to be digging new holes (for the poles) by hand. It’s back-breaking work to get in there and get these fixed.”

Walquist said a 13-member crew was working to get to and fix the damaged lines – 11 Sierra Pacific employees and two Sno-Cat operators from Diamond Peak.

“Last night we delivered a Sno-Cat Kassbohrer 300 and an operator to run it,” said Diamond Peak ski resort manager Ed Youmans.

The Diamond Peak Sno-Cat is normally used by the ski resort for grooming, but is working to cut a road through the snow for the power company.

Diamond Peak has been closed to conserve power but is expected to open Saturday or as soon as the power line is fully repaired.

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, the crew had cut 2.5 miles of road toward the line and planned to continue working into the night. Sierra Pacific officials anticipated the crew reaching the downed line by today.

Until the transmitter line from Carson Valley is fixed, Incline will continue to run off two 14,000-volt power lines from a substation in Kings Beach. Those lines are running off the only other operating transmitter line coming into North Lake Tahoe, a 60,000-volt line running from a substation in Martis Valley.

Two other major transmitter lines unable to provide power to the basin because of storm damage include the 60,000-volt line between Truckee and Tahoe City as well as the 60,000-volt line between Tahoe City and Kings Beach.

Walquist said a short power outage Wednesday afternoon was because of circuit overloading.

“The lines were being taxed by demands beyond their capacity to handle – like a fuse in your house, if it get overloaded it shuts down,” he said.

But unlike a fuse in a house, the power company can’t just flip a switch to turn the power back on, Walquist said. The power must be phased in slowly, explaining why some neighborhoods may have received power sooner than others.

Sierra Pacific continues to encourage energy conservation to prevent future power outages until the main transmitter line for Incline Village is fixed.


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