A Letter to the Members August 2020
Due to COVID-19 virus, we are holding a virtual annual meeting September 3. We will have presentations online via YouTube Live. You can also search Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative on YouTube to find our channel. We will provide updates, announce election results, and have a robust question-and-answer session.
We encourage people to send questions in advance via email or via the form included in your voting packet. We will also take questions on the chat option during the YouTube broadcast.
2019 was a productive, exciting year for Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications. The biggest news was PST’s award of five California Advanced Services Fund grants to expand broadband services in and around our service territory, which is discussed in the PST Manager’s and President’s Report. The location of the grants allowed us to extend fiber through areas that were desperate for service, including Plumas-Eureka Estates.
Even without grants, we continue to increase internet service access in the region.
The electric utility industry is still very strongly focused on fire prevention. PSREC continued its increased vegetation management and removal of hazard trees on the system to improve reliability and fire safety. We appreciate the increased cooperation from members on this key reliability and safety issue.
PSREC also continued to improve system reliability and response times through our supervisory control and data acquisition system.
A major milestone was completion of the Milford Substation rebuild. The Milford-based electric staff and crew did great work getting this built and ready.
In the last year, we added SCADA controls to distribution circuits in southern Sierra Valley, allowing us faster control of the region, which will also reduce outages and improve fire safety. Our Grizzly Road members are all aware of the upgrade to three-phase power and improved electronics, which will improve reliability on Grizzly Road and at Lake Davis.
PSREC is renting its surplus capacity to its subsidiary, PST, which reduces the cost of these upgrades to electric. PST provides fiber-optic service to customers along Grizzly Road.
We will install more distribution controls, including at the base of Yuba Pass. The more we control our system remotely, the more we reduce outage times and the number of customers out.
We would like to thank everyone for their patience during several short nighttime outages caused by PG&E’s system improvements in the spring. We are working to get more notice from them in the future. We are also working hard to develop alternative power supplies from the east for our entire system.
We have run our system on single-shot during high fire seasons for years now. Single-shot means if a fault is detected, the line is shut down. This prevents our equipment from trying to reclose, or re-energize, decreasing the risk of a limb or debris in the lines igniting. Single-shot settings during the fire season do mean longer outage times so crews can fully investigate and patrol the lines before re-energizing.
PSREC updated its system for outage notifications. The new system lets us get more granular with outages, getting down to neighborhoods, instead of just broad regions. These notifications are provided via email and text messages. To sign up for these notices, log into SmartHub at our website and visit the Manage Notifications section to select the alerts you want to receive. If you need assistance, please call us at (530) 832-4261.
We are analyzing the impact of both COVID-19 and the continued expansion of state regulations on our long-term rate forecasts. As always, we try to delay or minimize rate increases, where possible. Our rates continue to be competitive with surrounding utilities and much better than PG&E’s.
The PSREC Community Solar Program still offers blocks of 100 kilowatt-hours a month to members who want to use solar. PSREC offers members the choice of a monthly adder to their existing rate or a one-time upfront fee to participate in the Community Solar Program.
Buying solar power from PSREC’s Community Solar Program is a great option for members who may not want to make the large upfront investment in a solar system, rent or live in an area with shading where a solar system would not produce optimal energy output. Community solar is a great, maintenance-free way to use renewable power without solar panels on your roof.
At Plumas-Sierra, the health and safety of our members and employees is a priority. To limit person-to-person contact and encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have closed our lobby to the public and will have a virtual annual meeting. We remain committed to meeting the needs of our members, local businesses, and communities, and continue to provide power and internet services to our members. If outages do occur, our crews are ready to respond.
While PSREC and PST’s office is closed, you can use one of our other fee-free options to pay your electric and internet bills or manage your account. There is a dropbox available at our office, and all services are available at Plumas Sierras Electric and Plumas Sierra Telecommunications, through the SmartHub app, or by calling our office at (530) 832-4261.
As PSREC and PST support the vast effort to safeguard public health from COVID-19, members can continue to count on us to provide reliable, economical, and safe power and internet services.
For additional information about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, the state of California has a webpage dedicated to updates on COVID-19.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work together to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In spite of all the challenges, PSREC continues to be financially strong and remains committed to providing excellent and reliable service to our members.
We hope you will join us Thursday, September 3, at 6 p.m. via our YouTube Broadcast for the virtual annual membership meeting. You can also search Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric
Cooperative on YouTube to find our channel.
Your PSREC & PST Board of Directors
PSREC Board President