The practice of undergrounding power lines and infrastructure is complicated and there is good reason to underground some but not all infrastructure.
Liberty is proud to deliver safe, reliable electric service to our Lake Tahoe customers. Our investments in our electric system allows us to continue to provide this service today and tomorrow.
Strengthening the Reliability of Our Electric System
Liberty invests in the communities we serve to provide safe, reliable services for you and your family. Investments allow us to improve our current system and support future residential and business growth.
Learn more below about our investments in the Lake Tahoe system.
Covered conductor is wire that has an insulated cover which protects against sparking, shorts from wire slaps, and reduces or eliminates exposed bare wire. Liberty Utilities is actively replacing bare wire with covered conductor in some of the highest fire risk areas including the Topaz and West Lake Tahoe areas.
Crews continue to remove assets and infrastructure that was previously mounted on trees, adding poles where needed and relocating the assets to a proper, fire retardant treated pole. Tree mounts were common many years ago and not only pose a fire risk, but also cause issues if the tree grows and takes the mounts with it, or if the tree dies and falls. As part of the Wildfire Mitigation plan, Liberty is systematically removing all tree mounted infrastructure.
The Brockway substation was built in the 1960’s, is made of wood, and has been deemed a fire hazard by the local fire department. Construction is underway on a brand new substation just up the street and once complete, Liberty will decommission the old wooden substation. The new substation will also provide better more reliable electric service to the north shore of Lake Tahoe.
Liberty continues to work through the system to replace traditional expulsion fuses with non-expulsion fuses. Crews have been systematically replacing fuses with a focus on the highest risk areas. The traditional fuses expel hot gas and particles when blown which can ignite a fire should that hot material land on dry fuel. The new non-expulsion fuses do not expel any material making them much safer from a fire ignition perspective.
Liberty has selected a contractor to thoroughly inspect and document the entire overhead electrical distribution system. This project is underway and will provide detailed insight and allow cross referencing to be sure all expulsion fuses, tree attachments, etc. are replaced.
A year round ongoing effort to reduce fire hazards around high voltage infrastructure, Liberty Utilities and contractor have treated and/or removed approximately 6,500 trees/vegetation thus far in 2020.
Liberty continues to build out a network of local weather stations to provide real time weather data throughout the service territory. In addition to the weather stations, Liberty is also utilizing the AlertWildfire camera network in partnership with the University Nevada Reno as well as well as piloting a new technology called distribution fault anticipation, which helps to detect minor faults before they become catastrophic.
Liberty Utility Crews are working on another Lake Tahoe saving project at Emerald Bay State Park near the historic Vikingsholm castle. The Wildfire Prevention Project consists of 25 pole replacements to install covered conductor and harden the electrical distribution lines to prevent wildfire. Tree trimming and removal will occur. Most poles will be hand dug to avoid unnecessary disturbance.
Liberty Utilities embarks on some undergrounding projects every year, sometimes working with local counties (Rule 20A program), to select underground projects that can maximize benefits while minimizing cost and negative impacts. These projects are typically smaller in nature, have county government approval, and provide maximum public benefit.
Construction of Liberty’s first microgrid at UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station is complete. A microgrid is a decentralized electric source and distribution that can provide electric power to an isolated area of the electrical distribution system and be synchronized with the full system, providing additional power and load balancing. The system allows Sagehen to operate almost exclusively on solar power during the summer months. The microgrid contributes to Liberty’s wildfire mitigation infrastructure hardening efforts and sustainability and 100% renewable energy goals.