Fire danger at Mt. Charleston high through summer holidays


MT. CHARLESTON (FOX5) -- People who live on Mount Charleston said they are upset after NV Energy announced it could shut off their power to prevent wildfires.

Neighbors who live in the Rainbow subdivision and Old Town community say the power lines on Mount Charleston should have gone underground a long time ago to prevent things like this from happening.

"There's no justification. To me there is no justification to shutting off our power," said longtime resident Rose Meranto.

Other mountain residents like Sandy Heer said she would consider legal action if her power is shut off.

"I will be very, highly upset if they turn off my power. They cannot do that. We live up here and we need our power," said Heer.

NV Energy called the plan Public Safety Outage Management or PSOM. If carried out by the utility, more than 400 people on Mount Charleston would lose power. 

“Our teams will look at the fuel on the ground, the fire science and we'll also look at what winds maybe doing to make a decision on whether or not the risk is high enough, that an ignition could be caused by our system," said NV Energy Vice President of Operation Kevin Geragthy.

NV Energy said it was prompted to take extra precautions for several reasons. First, to prevent wildfires like the one in Northern California last year. Second, to comply with the Nevada state legislature which recently passed a bill requiring a natural disaster mitigation plan. The utility said the climate change also played a role in its decision. 

“PSOM is something that can be done immediately in response to environmental conditions to help prevent wildfires and our community,” said Geragthy.

While most people on Mount Charleston appear to be opposed to PSOM, one man who lives in the Rainbow Subdivision said he would rather be without power for several hours than risk a fire.

"It would make sense because the whole ultimate goal is to protect properties," said John Swanson.

NV Energy said people on Mount Charleston will receive at least 48 hours notice. Anyone with a serious medical condition is encouraged to call the utility and update their contact information. Those that qualify for the Green Cross Program would receive 72 hours notice and a personal phone call from NV Energy warning of the planned outage.

The Green Cross Program is specifically designed to help people with serious medical condition in the event of a power outage.

Rose Meranto lives in the Old Town community on Mount Charleston and is dependent on an oxygen machine that requires electricity to function. She said no amount of notice will make up for the imposition. 

"It's a necessity for me. This oxygen machine is my life line," said Meranto.

NV Energy said the power outages could last anywhere between four to 12 hours. 

"That's a lot to ask of people,” Meranto said.

NV Energy will be at The Resort on Mount Charleston from 4 -6 p.m. on July 16 to answer questions and respond to concerns from people who would be directly affected by the planned power outages. 

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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