Portions of Washoe County have been added to NV Energy’s list of elevated fire risk zones and become a part of the company’s Public Safety Outage Management (PSOM) program. The areas include parts of west and south Reno, Galena, Verdi, North Valleys and Washoe Valley.
During a PSOM event, the power company said it will shut off power in extreme or elevated fire risk areas to help prevent power lines, things blown into power lines or other equipment from causing or contributing to a wildfire. NV Energy said they’ll try to notify customers impacted by a PSOM event at least 48 hours in advance of a power outage, if possible.
“As part of our commitment to public safety, we sought and received approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to expand our Public Safety Outage Management program,” said Jesse Murray, who oversees natural disaster protection for NV Energy. “We understand that a PSOM event is never convenient, and it is our goal to reduce the need for these outages through our ongoing and future investments to make our grid more resilient.”
NV Energy works with local emergency management teams and other stakeholders to evaluate risks–such as weather, vegetation levels as fire fuels, field observations or local responder feedback–before shutting down power in any zones. Officials said they are also developing plans to reroute power from other areas when possible to reduce impact to customers.
The PSOM program is just one part of NV Energy’s natural disaster program, which launched after the passage of SB 329 in the 2019 legislative session. The new law focuses on utility companies and prevention of natural disasters, such as wildfires. It requires electric utilities to submit a natural disaster protection plan to the Public Utilities Commission.
PSOM is an action the company can take immediately to reduce fire risk. NV Energy officials said they’re also working on more long-term solutions within its natural disaster plan to help protect customers from such events. Earlier this year the company partnered with the City of Reno to host fuels-grazing goats in west Reno, and in 2020 it provided a grant to the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District’s Wildland and Fuels Division to help clear fuels from around power poles and lines.
The eastern side of Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side from Incline Village and Crystal Bay south to Stateline, and the Mt. Charleston area were the first two regions included in the PSOM program and are listed as extreme fire risk zones. Other areas recently added as PSOM zones include portions of Humboldt, Lyon, Storey and Elko counties and Carson City.
For more information on PSOM, including maps of all PSOM Zones, visit nvenergy.com/psom.
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with 20 years’ experience working in communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. In her free time, she is a volunteer backpacking guide along the Tahoe Rim Trail, an avid home cook and baker, cyclist, wife and stepmom.