Power to the people

MOUND HOUSE -- Alice Leonard, 68, was turned off literally and figuratively by Sierra Pacific Power Co. after an outage on Wednesday left her and her neighbors powerless for hours without warning.

"I would like to hit them with a wet noodle for doing this with no notice and at this time of day," she said.

According to Sierra Pacific spokesman Gary Aldax, around 100 customers were affected by the power loss Wednesday from 9 a.m. until noon in the Highlands neighborhood of Mound House.

"A meter to us represents a customer," Aldax said, "and 100 were affected."

When asked if the power company gave notification of the outage, power company workers said none was given.

"I don't believe so," Aldax said. "Although they probably knew since their power went out the day before."

"Planned or unplanned, it was badly managed," said Leonard, adding that the neighborhood has about 285 residents.

"Customer service is my background," she said. "It's disappeared. When you get notice, you can plan around that and cope much easier."

Leonard and her husband moved from California to Nevada in 1992 to retire.

Coming from the aerospace industry, Leonard found the change in atmosphere agreeable -- that is, until she lost her air conditioning.

"The climate didn't bother us, but when it gets hot, we need to turn on the swamp cooler which is run by electricity, not little squirrels in a cage." Leonard said.

She is a cardiac patient and a diabetic.

"People with health concerns cannot have this happen to them," she said.

"And insulin is usually kept in refrigerators. If my insulin went bad, it would have been a critical health situation."

Aldax said an outage on Tuesday was unplanned, but the outage on Wednesday was planned.

"What we had out there was a section of underground cable that needed to be replaced," Aldax said. "The red phase went bad Tuesday so we doubled up on the blue phase."

Three color-coded, separate wires make up a three-phase line of red, blue and yellow.

"With twice as much load on blue, we can't operate that way too long," Aldax said. "So to fix red, they had to take the whole thing out."

The power problems in Highlands were unrelated to Monday's rolling blackouts across Northern Nevada.


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