Over 5K Nevada County customers hit with power outage | TheUnion.com
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Over 5K Nevada County customers hit with power outage

Victoria Penate
Staff Writer

A total of 5,664 customers in western Nevada County were without power Wednesday night as a result of two separate outages, PG&E said.

The first outage — affecting Penn Valley, Rough and Ready, Smartsville, and a small area in Grass Valley — began at 7:10 p.m. This outage impacted 4,297 customers. Most customers had power restored by 10:34 p.m., although restoration was delayed for 34 customers until as late as 4:56 a.m. Thursday, PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo said.

According to Merlo, the outage was caused by damaged equipment. She could not provide details regarding the nature of the damage.

The second outage began at 7:30 p.m., impacting 1,367 customers in Grass Valley. Power was restored to all of these customers at 8:56 p.m.

Merlo said the cause of this outage was found to be equipment damage caused by a squirrel. This generally occurs when a squirrel comes into contact with two power lines, conducting between them and disrupting the power system.

FUTURE PSPS

This year, PG&E is looking toward Public Safety Power Shut-offs that are smaller in size and shorter in length, Merlo said.

“At this time, we don’t have any planned shut-offs. But, we are always monitoring weather conditions and, should conditions change, we would start alerting customers.”

Merlo said the company is making use of improved real-time weather technology, which will allow it to better understand how severe weather may impact their system, alerting them to potential threats. Vegetation management around power lines has also been a key component of PG&E’s efforts to prevent the need for shut-offs.

PG&E has also made its system more resilient by replacing existing poles with stronger ones, covering power lines, and installing sectionalizing devices, according to Merlo. She explained that the devices will make the grid more flexible during outages, allowing for shutdowns to affect a more narrowly targeted area.

Merlo said the company’s goal for future Public Safety Power Shut-offs is to restore power to as many customers as possible within 12 daylight hours after the severe weather passes.

PG&E does not expect any Public Safety Power Shut-off will be necessary for Nevada County in the next seven days — the longest window the utility forecasts for any planned outage, Merlo said.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.


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