Kyle Magin
Staff Writer

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March 22, 2011
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Residents in the dark question PG&E response


Over the snowy, wet and cold weekend, plenty of western Nevada County residents snuggled up at home to ride out the storm.

Jim Donovan didn't have a choice.

Donovan lives off of Royal Flush Court, east of Rollins Lake. He was one of more than 3,000 Nevada County homeowners who lost power this weekend, a number crews had whittled down to about 40 by Monday.

Late Friday snow and wind knocked a 30-foot tall electric transmitter tower across Donovan's driveway. The tower, constructed of two wooden poles, transmits 115,000 volts uphill from western Nevada County to the Colfax-area Drum Forebay substation run by Pacific Gas and Energy, a company official said.

When he awoke Saturday, Donovan realized he was stuck. He wasn't sure if the tower and the lines drooped over his driveway were still dangerous and elected not to cross them.

"We had planned on doing a couple of things this weekend, but on Saturday we saw what had happened, and decided that wasn't happening," Donovan said. He was using a gas generator at his home and family members shuttled gasoline to him to run it.

Donovan immediately called PG&E's 1-800 number after discovering the downed tower, and a representative logged the issue, but didn't send anyone out to look at the problem. A few hours later his wife placed a second call, which was logged, though again, nobody came out. By Sunday, a tree service came out to look at the pole, but didn't have the ability to repair it, and left. Donovan didn't hear back from PG&E until Monday morning, when a specialist came out to ground the lines.

"The lack of information and lack of getting through was a little frustrating," Donovan said. "I'm really appreciative of the PG&E linemen, those guys are nice and helpful when they come out. It's the upstairs I'm having a problem with."

With a generator and food, Donovan was fine, but if the same thing happened to an elderly couple, or someone were to suffer from a medical situation, the line could have presented an immediate danger, he said.

PG&E usually responds to situations where a customer is trapped more quickly, said Paul Moreno, a spokesman for the company.

"I don't have that information" regarding the delay in Donovan's requested repair, Moreno said. "We certainly apologize for that. When we're aware of those situations we'll make an effort to clear the line as quickly as possible."

The weekend storms created an extremely busy weekend for crews scrambling to restore power, Moreno added.

PG&E crews are expected to rebuild the tower this week, Moreno said.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.


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The Union Updated Mar 22, 2011 10:57AM Published Mar 22, 2011 12:48AM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.