- In order to reduce the risk of sparking a wildfire, NV Energy has instituted a Public Safety Outage Management (PSOM) program to potentially shut down power in three high-risk areas, including Mount Charleston near Las Vegas.
- The utility says this is the first time it has prepared to use the strategy, and that it intends to de-energize power lines only as a last resort. Outages could last four to 12 hours, but NV Energy told customers they can expect 48 hours advance notice.
- The new program has already elicited concern from local businesses. NV Energy has scheduled three public meetings this month to discuss the PSOM program, with the first planned for Tuesday in Mt. Charleston, Nevada.
NV Energy's strategy is similar to the one in place for California's utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in June called its first Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event, cutting power to approximately 22,700 customers as wind speeds were forecast to accelerate in dry areas.
NV Energy has pledged as much advance notice as possible. The utility said it will utilize the program only in extreme fire-risk areas, including: the Eastern/Nevada side of the Lake Tahoe basin, NV Energy’s northern California transmission territory (including non-NV Energy customers), and Mt. Charleston in southern Nevada.
NV Energy sees the PSOM program as an "absolute last resort,” senior vice president of operations Kevin Geraghty said in a statement. The utility told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that climate change has increased wildfire risk and led the utility to institute the program.
Proactive power shutoffs have already been used in California since last fall, with PG&E's first such preemptive act occurring last October, though the jury is still out on their effectiveness.
In last month's action, PG&E turned off power to some customers in the Sierra Foothills and North Bay areas. Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission has launched the second phase of its fire mitigation efforts, to focus on evaluating whether efforts — including the PSPS program — have been effective.