Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – May 2022

Dear Members:

Although our lobby remains closed, if you have business to attend to at the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) Portola office, we now offer meetings by appointment. Please call (530) 832-4261 to schedule a time. We also have a form available online on our website.

Director Elections

In the cooperative world, we have a truism: “Good cooperatives have great boards.”

This year, districts 2 and 5 are up for election. District 2 (Graeagle-Mohawk area) is served by Dick Short and District 5 (Doyle-Lake Davis- Long Valley-Washoe County areas) is served by David Hansen.

If you would like to check which district you live in, the boundaries are on the PSREC website. See page 28 for board of director qualifications and nomination information.

Please call me for more information if you live in one of these districts and are interested in running for the board. The board meets once a month, usually on the fourth Wednesday. Directors must complete significant training to stay current on issues and become certificated as directors.

Rates

Given the ongoing drought, and high electricity and natural gas prices in California, the cooperative’s staff is proposing rate adjustments to the board of directors. The cooperative will hold meetings as part of that. Any rate increases approved by the board would be implemented in the later part of the year.

May is Electrical Safety Month

At Plumas-Sierra, we recognize Electrical Safety Month every May, but we also know the importance of practicing safety year-round. From our co-op crews to you, the members we serve, everyone has a part to play in prioritizing safety.

Electricity is a necessity, and it powers our daily lives. But we know firsthand how dangerous electricity can be because we work with it 365 days a year. Call (530) 832-4261 or visit our page on safety tips for additional electrical safety tips.

As we enter the heart of spring, we know many members are eager to begin yard projects. Be sure to call 811 before you dig to have utility lines marked.

Tell the operator where you plan to dig and what type of work you are doing. The affected local utilities will send locators to your property, free of charge. Then you will know what’s below and be able to dig safely without causing damage.

As irrigation season approaches, it is a great time to remind members to look up and live.

Whether cutting trees, working with irrigation pipe or other long objects, look up and be sure to avoid power lines.

Telecommunications

A reminder to members: If you are looking for service or wondering if you should make a long-term commitment with another provider, please check with us first. We hear time and again that if people knew our services were about to arrive, they wouldn’t have signed a different provider’s long-term contract.

Given our fast speeds, you can stream videos on multiple devices at the same time without slowing down. We have had many customers replace their TV provider with web streaming services, ultimately lowering their monthly bills. We continue to expand broadband coverage throughout the region.

We are actively converting most of our Graeagle coaxial customers to fiber optic and are about to convert the nonfunctioning coax system in Loyalton to fiber optic.

We are also waiting for the final route blessing from the California Public Utility Commission for our four grants. We hope construction will begin soon.

If you do not have fiber optic, the best way to accelerate fiber optic deployment is to download the CalSpeed.org app for your devices or computers. Running this app through your wired internet (not a cellular connection) will help us get additional grants to speed up fiber optic deployment.

If you haven’t already, get on our interest list or sign up for service by calling us at (530) 832-4261 or visiting Plumas Sierra Telecommunications.

If you have any questions, please contact me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076, or email me.

Sincerely,
Bob Marshall
General Manager 

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – April 2022

Dear Members:

The cooperative board and staff are watching the power and fuel markets in California this spring. Prices are up for power and natural gas, and that impacts our wholesale power costs. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) gets up to 50% of our power from hydropower, and the ongoing drought is forcing us to buy replacement power while still paying for the missing hydropower.

We are reviewing the needs for rate adjustments for 2022 and 2023. As always, we will let the membership know if any rate increase is proposed.

Lineworker Appreciation Month

April is Lineworker Appreciation Month. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative lineworkers are responsible for keeping power flowing day and night, regardless of holidays, vacations, birthdays, weddings or other important family milestones.

Beyond the years of specialized training and apprenticeships, it takes internal fortitude and a mission-oriented outlook to be a good lineworker.

In PSREC’s service territory and across the country, electric co-op lineworkers’ mindset of helping others often extends beyond their commitment to their work and into their communities.

Given the dedication of PSREC’s lineworkers both on and off the job, I encourage you to take a moment to acknowledge the many contributions they make to our local community. In the past two years, we have dealt with four massive wildfires. Even though the fires burned under our transmission lines, we were able to keep the power on with few interruptions.

Telecommunications

The outage on March 7 was caused by damage done to our main fiber line by a non-cooperative organization in the Lemon Valley area. We are working on long-term fixes to outages like this. There are several projects underway, and we will share information about them as we get confirmation that they are started.

We have received additional grants to offer fiber optic service to a variety of areas, including Elysian Valley, parts of Doyle, Johnstonville, eastern Sierra Valley, C-Road/Mohawk Vista, parts of Cromberg/Spring Garden, and Old Truckee Road in Sierraville.

If you are looking for service or wondering if you should make a long-term commitment with another provider, please check with us first. We hear again and again that if people knew our services were about to arrive, they wouldn’t have signed a different provider’s long-term contract.

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications’ fiber optic services offer speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second. Our coax service offers speeds up to 25 megabytes a second, and our wireless broadband service offers download speeds of up to 20 Mbps. With these speeds, you can stream videos on multiple devices at the same time without slowing down. You could even replace your TV provider with streaming services.

We continue to expand broadband coverage throughout the region. If you haven’t already done so, get on our interest list or sign up for service by calling us at (530) 832-4261 or visiting Our Website.

Fire Prevention

As the weather improves, we will begin our right-of-way work, including clearing poles, trimming trees, and removing trees that threaten our rights-of-way and our communities. Your help is greatly appreciated with this crucial ongoing project.

Our members have helped identify trees that have turned color or are clearly damaged. This is a big help—sometimes trees die and turn color after we’ve inspected them for the year.

Another way to help is cooperating with us when we need to remove trees. We don’t cut trees unnecessarily because it is a big expense to the cooperative. If a tree is a hazard tree, we are legally required to remove it. When members cooperate with us on tree removal, it reduces our costs—which helps keep rates down—and keeps us all safe. Given California’s strict liability standard, PSREC must remove all identified hazard trees off our lines.

Retirements

We had a few key retirements recently. Paul Erwin, our longest serving lineman, and Corby Erwin, our member and energy services manager, have retired. Also retiring is Teri Ward, one of our customer service representatives, and Charlie Sculio, our co-generation plant manager. We wish all of them well and we appreciate all their hard work through the years!

Between our grants and retirements, we have been hiring. If you know someone interested in working for PSREC and PST, the best way is to watch the website on our Employment page.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please call me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076, or email Me.

Sincerely,
Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — March 2022

Dear Members:

We are pleased to announce we received additional grants to offer fiber-optic service to a variety of areas, including Elysian Valley, parts of Doyle, Johnstonville, eastern Sierra Valley, C-Road/Mohawk Vista, parts of Cromberg/ Spring Garden/Greenhorn Ranch, and Old Truckee Road in Sierraville.

When we build the awarded projects—and other projects of our own—we can serve homes along the route.

Grant projects take a lot of work with short timelines. We try to ensure we serve as many of you as possible while keeping our existing services up and running. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) continues to improve on its other services. We have been upgrading our wireless system so the entire system can carry more data, improving customer experiences. We are working to replace coaxial service in parts of Graeagle with fiber-optic service, allowing download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second with unlimited data use.

Be assured we are building fiber as fast as we can while upgrading other services where we can. Please email me if you have questions about our plans. If you aren’t already on our interest list, visit Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications or call (530) 832-4126 to sign up for service.

SmartHub

At PSREC, we work hard to empower our members to take charge of their energy consumption.

Our secure SmartHub app has tools you can use to access your historical energy use. This data can be graphically compared to temperature data for your area. We have observed that despite several other variables, the heating portion of most residential electric bills increases 3% for every degree the average daily temperature drops below 50 Fahrenheit.

Increased awareness of energy consumption habits allows you to choose when and how to save energy and, in turn, lower your bill. If you don’t already have an online profile, create one in SmartHub to access this helpful information. To start visit our website and click the “Register for Online Access” link in the green login box.

To create your SmartHub profile, you need your account number and other identifying information for the primary account holder. If you have any difficulty, please give us a call at (530) 832-4261. We are happy to assist you. This is also a good time to ensure we have your current and complete contact information.

This allows us to continue to provide the high level of service you expect and deserve. Accurate information enables us to improve customer service and enhance communications for reporting and repairing outages.

While we always do our best to maintain service, we occasionally plan outages to update, repair or replace equipment. In these instances, we provide advance notification to affected members through automated phone messages, text messages, or email if we have updated contact information and communication preferences.

Rest assured, when you provide your contact information to the co-op, we will never share it with any third parties. PSREC only uses it to send important information to you. Please take a moment to confirm or update your contact information by signing into your account on our website, through the SmartHub app, or by calling us at (530) 832-4261.

Scholarships

Attending a college or university next fall? PSREC and Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications offer two $1,000 scholarships. Full details and an application can be found on our Scholarships page. The application deadline is April 25.

Get Ready for Spring Safely

Spring is just around the corner, and we are starting to plan for outdoor projects.

While you are eager to get an early start, please don’t ignore safety. Check your surroundings, both high and low. Be aware of overhead power lines when trimming trees or shrubs. If you are digging holes for new fence posts or planting trees or shrubs, please first call 811.

The process is quick and easy. The 811 call center will take your information and notify PSREC and other utilities of your request. A professional is dispatched from the co-op and other utility services to identify and mark the location of underground lines where you plan to dig.

Please call a few days before you plan to work to allow for processing.

Be aware of any overhead power lines in your area. Look up before moving irrigation pipes, using a ladder, installing a new antenna or flagpole, or moving large trucks, trailers, or heavy equipment.

For indoor projects that involve wiring and electrical fixtures, make sure you turn the power off at the breaker panel to avoid being shocked. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It just might save your life.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please call me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076 or email me.

Sincerely,
Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — February 2022

Dear Members:

As many of you know, PSREC was without our main power supply from July 13 to December 10, when we were able to reconnect to the PG&E grid to the west. We took a short outage December 20 to repair a problem deep in the woods by Massack that would have been a significant problem when the storms hit. Our crews were scouring the main line when they found the problem and were able to quickly repair it.

I would like to thank our line crews who have worked tirelessly at all hours of the day and night in terrible weather during the recent storms to restore power as quickly as possible to our members.

As this gets to you in the heart of winter, there is still the possibility for more majorstorms. PSREC provides outage notifications via email, text, social media, and our website. To get notices, sign in to SmartHub and visit the Manage Notifications section to select the alerts you would like to receive. If you need assistance, please call us at (530) 832-4261.

For more information on outage preparedness, visit our Outage Tips Page. You can also view areas affected by outages on the outage map page.

Community Solar

The PSREC Community Solar Program is still offering 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 community solar.

PSREC’s Community Solar Program is a great option for members who may not want to make a large upfront investment in a solar power system, or rent or live in an area where a solar power system would not produce optimal energy output. Community solar is a maintenance-free way to participate in renewable power without solar panels on your roof.

PSREC is working with the California Energy Commission to allow our community solar program to satisfy Title 24 solar requirements for new construction. If you are getting ready to build, contact us for more information.

To sign up for PSREC’s Community Solar Program, please call (530) 832-4261 or visit our Community Solar page.

Telecommunications

It has been an exciting time for Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications. We have completed construction of the California Advanced Services Fund grant projects to bring service to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of our system, including Keddie, Johnsville, Plumas Eureka, Mohawk Vista, areas of Portola, Lake Davis, Johnstonville, areas of Gold Run, and Elysian Valley.

Our fiber-optic service offers speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second with unlimited data. We are delighted to begin construction on the most recent grants we just received from the California PUC.

As we build out, we will ensure we can serve as many people as possible along the way. Once we have our routes finalized, we will post them on our website. One area we are building through is Greenhorn Ranch. We have to finish the grants that go to the designated recipients first due to tight deadlines, but we will then work on neighborhoods along the way. We will be applying for more grants for future years.

For more information, or to sign up for service, please call us at (530) 832-4126 or visit Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications.

Scholarships

Two $1,000 scholarships are available. The deadline is Monday, April 25. For more information, please call me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076 or email me.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2022

Dear Members:

Happy New Year! 2021 was another trying year for everyone, and we are pleased to begin 2022 with some good news. Plumas- Sierra Telecommunications was awarded four additional California Advanced Services Fund grants totaling more than $22 million to continue expanding broadband services to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of our region. These grants will help PST cover Greenhorn, Spring Garden, parts of Mohawk Valley, parts of Sierra Valley, including Old Truckee Road, and parts of Lassen County. Construction will begin in spring. If you have not yet contacted us to get on our interest list for service, please call us at 530-832-4261 or visit www.pst.coop.

We are also pleased to report that we are back on our normal transmission feed from PG&E. We had been without our primary feed since July 13, 2021. Keeping the lights on has been onerous work for many months. We would really like to thank the Northern California Power Agency for their help in driving PG&E to restore power in a timely manner. We were frustrated by the length of time it took to complete the work, but it is done at last.

Again, thanks so much to the three prisons on our system that were key in keeping your lights on when they ran their own generators. And thanks to Sierra Army Depot for running individual generators for many months.

I can’t thank the hardworking System Control and Data Acquisition team that has staffed the control room for more than four months. If you know them or see them, please thank Jason Harston, Matt Brubaker, Katie Willis, and Tim Retallack for their hard work and dedication that allowed us to keep the lights on for all this time. And please thank the board and any past board members for their support and efforts to make our system reliable. Without the Marble Intertie and our High Sierra Cogeneration plant, we would have had a very difficult time.

Lastly, thanks to every member who conserved power when we needed it!

Continue To Be Prepared for Outages

Even though your cooperative has invested in system improvements, removed hazard trees, and kept up its ongoing maintenance, outages can and will happen. Being prepared can help make the best of a bad situation. Please visit our website for information on outage preparedness and electrical safety. We also would like to encourage everyone to put high-quality surge protection on your home electronics. Manufacturers are supposed to build modern electronics to code, which means they can withstand a surge, but this doesn’t always happen. Between risks posed by lightning, trees, and power surges from the grid, investing in high-quality surge protection will pay for itself over time.

PSREC’s outage notification system provides localized outage information to members via text and email. To view the most up-to-date outage information or to report an outage, please log in to the PSREC SmartHub app on your Apple or Android device, or log in at our website. Please report all outages to us, day or night, at (530) 832-4261 or through the app.

Scholarships

PSREC and PST are again offering scholarships to students who receive either electric or internet services from PSREC or PST at their primary residence in Plumas, Sierra, Lassen, or Washoe counties.

An application is posted on our website. The deadline is April 25. For more information, visit our Scholarships page.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please call me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076 or email me.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2021

Dear Members,

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season.

The California Public Utilities Commission will vote on California Advanced Services Fund grant resolutions at its December 16, meeting. Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications submitted four applications to the program. If funded, they will bring broadband services to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of our region including Spring Garden, Greenhorn, Old Truckee Road in Sierraville, and several areas of Lassen County.

Expansion of broadband services funded by the previous CASF awards is nearly complete. Areas of Mohawk Vista, C Road, Johnsville, and parts of Gold Run are open for installations. In addition, Plumas Eureka Estates is open for installations. You can check availability for your location at www.pst.coop or by calling (530) 832-4261.

PST’s internet services are unlimited, so you don’t have to worry about data caps. We offer speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second on our fiber-optic service.

To learn more about our services or get on our interest list, please visit www.pst.coop or call us at (530) 832-4261.

Return to Normal From PG&E

As I write this in mid-November, we have been informed that PG&E has a tentative date of December 17, for the completion of its power line that will allow us to have our primary transmission feedback in service. When we put out conservation notices, we greatly appreciate your help in reducing usage to avoid rolling blackouts. As most of you may know, our primary feed from PG&E burned down July 13. We have been on our backup system and generators ever since.

Getting our primary feedback in service will be a great relief to our hardworking System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) operators who have been staffing the SCADA center 24/7 for more than four months to keep the lights on. If you know them or see them, please thank Jason Harston, Matt Brubaker, Katie Willis, and Tim Retallack for their hard work and dedication.

Eyes & Ears

We spend a tremendous amount of time and money grooming our rights-of-way and maintaining our equipment, but it is a neverending job, and we can always use your help. Our members often let us know when there are problems with our system.

We have a remote, rural power grid with only six customers per mile of power line. When you let us know you think there may be an equipment malfunction or something looks out of place on the line, you help us prevent fires and outages.

Thank you, and please continue to call us if you think something isn’t right. We have operators available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (530) 832-4261.

Capital Credits

One way electric cooperatives differ from investor-owned utilities is each cooperative depends on its members to provide the necessary funding, or equity, for operation.

Inspired by the idea that people can pool their resources to get things done—a fact that hasn’t changed since PSREC was formed in 1937 by a group of people who banded together to bring electricity to the countryside—your membership ensures access to reliable resources and services – a cornerstone of economic opportunity.

The mechanism by which members contribute equity is known as capital credits, which are determined at the close of each business year by allocating PSREC’s net profits to each member based on the amount of electricity the member purchased.

Capital credit returns are evaluated annually by PSREC’s board of directors. The board has determined PSREC will distribute a refund to members in 2021.

Members in good standing will receive capital credit refunds on their November bills, which are received in December. If less than $50, the refund will appear as a credit on your bill. If your refund is $50 or more, a check will be mailed later in December.

Thank you for your support of PSREC and the common needs of our community!

If you have any questions, please contact me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076, or email me.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2021

Dear Members,

Power Update

When you receive this, we hopefully will be close to getting our connection back from PG&E. They have given us a rough timeframe of early November for our main transmission feed to be restored. I would like to thank everyone for their patience, support, and continued conservation efforts. It’s been quite a struggle. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperartive (PSREC) serves three prisons and they all deserve thanks for running their generators as much as possible to reduce load. I would also like to thank Sierra Army Depot for reducing use and running generators to help keep the lights on for everyone.

Past measures implemented by the cooperative lessened the impact of the loss of our main transmission feed. Your board of directors had the foresight to approve the construction of the Marble Intertie back in the 1990s, as well as construction of the High Sierra Cogeneration Power Plant and the solar project on the Sierra Army Depot property. All these projects, along with timely conservation by all the members,have gotten us through this extreme summer, though it hasn’t been perfect. In early October, we had two different outages on the NV Energy backup line—one caused by lightning, and the second by a fire near a transmission pole.

As we head into winter with limited power supply, being prepared for an emergency and knowing what to do during an outage are vital for personal safety and quick restoration of power. Equip your home with a power outage kit. If someone in your home depends on electric-powered life-sustaining equipment, make a plan for backup power. Please install surge protectors on sensitive electronics and appliances. Buy surge protectors that have a warranty for your connected load.

Once we get to winter and the storms hit, if your lights start to flicker, turn off and unplug sensitive electronic equipment immediately and reduce any unnecessary load.

For more information on outage preparedness and safety, visit our website. To receive outage updates via text message, log in to SmartHub and set your notification preferences. If you need assistance signing up for outage communications, please call us at (530) 832-4261.

Questions From Annual Meeting

As discussed last month, we wanted to answer some of the questions we received during the annual meeting.

The first question was: Do we use the same power lines as PG&E and where do we buy our power? Plumas-Sierra buys power from the power markets in California and Nevada, and generates some of its own power. We buy from the Western Area Power Administration and we generate our own power off our system through the Northern California Power Agency. Our High Sierra Cogeneration Plant generates about 20% of our peak needs and our solar installation at the Sierra Army Depot generates additional power. We also buy power through the Utah Association of Municipal Power System. We don’t buy power from PG&E, but they wheel power from the west to our system through some of the same lines that serve their customers.

The second question was: Are your lines overhead or underground? Most of our lines are overhead. Underground service is mostly in newer subdivisions.

Third: How do you pick where to expand fiber-optic? The largest driver of that is grant availability. The grants are very specific on which areas are eligible, as determined by the CPUC.

When we build a grant-funded project, we also use our own funds to expand service into nearby non-grant areas. For non-grant areas not adjacent to grant projects, we analyze factors such as project cost, need for service, and member interest to prioritize areas for expansion.

Winter Rate Assistance Program

We are accepting applications for the Winter Rate Assistance Program, which offers a discounted rate for November through April to income-qualified members.

WRAP provides information to help members conserve energy and offers a discounted electric rate during the heating season.

For more information and a WRAP application, visit our website or call (530) 832-4261.

Telecommunications

Crews have completed repairs to the fiber-optic cable damaged by wildfire and have returned to normal construction and installation schedules. If you have not already contacted us to schedule your service installation, please call (530) 832-4261 or visit Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST).

PST is still waiting to find out from the California Public Utilities Commission if it will be awarded additional grant funds from the California Advanced Services Fund to continue expansion of broadband coverage to the hardest-to-reach parts of our service area. We expect to find out by the end of the year.

Are you on our waiting list? If you would like to check on how soon service is coming to your area, please email our Fiber department. If you would like to sign up for the waiting list or make sure you are still on the list, please email our Fiber department or call us at (530) 832-6021.

If you have any questions, please call me at (530) 832-6076 or email me.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2021

Dear Members:

Thank you to everyone who joined us online for the 2021 virtual annual member meeting. If you missed it, the meeting recording can be viewed on our YouTube channel. You can find that by searching Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) at YouTube.

During the event, Aaron Whitfield, chief operating officer of Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications, highlighted plans for broadband expansion in the region. You can get more information on our broadband services by visiting Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications.

Jason Harston, PSREC’s manager of engineering and operations, gave an informative presentation on the recent wildfires and related outages.

Sandee Peebles of the Western Area Power Administration, Randy Howard of the Northern California Power Agency, and Jackie Coombs of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems provided updates on the electric industry during the meeting. They discussed key issues facing your cooperative and the electric utility industry as a whole. A key takeaway was the need for the cooperative to stay active politically to protect the interests of our member-owners.

We had a good question-and-answer session during the annual meeting. We received questions from the members that we will address across the next two months of the magazine.

The first was why we sited the emergency generators where we did. After careful consideration, the Graeagle Substation and Milford Substation were selected as locations for interconnection of the emergency generators because they were the best match for the load and had room for the generators. We chose the largest circuit out of the Graeagle Substation to connect that emergency generator because that circuit is the largest out of that substation that will not exceed the generator’s capacity. The circuit at the Milford Substation was chosen for similar reasons.

The second question was what we are going to do to get off of PG&E and/or build a stronger backup power supply. Several members suggested more solar power. While we are looking at more solar power based on member demand our primary effort to protect ourselves in the future is our proposed project to construct a more robust connection to the Nevada grid east of the Herlong area. Studies are underway and we are working to make sure the cost is reasonable.

The cooperative offers shares in the PSREC Community Solar Program with payment plan options for members who would like to receive local solar energy without having it sited on their homes. For more information, please visit our website or call us at (530) 832-4621.

There were some specific requests on fiberoptic availability. We will contact people who asked about that directly. We will lay out more of our long-term thinking on specific regions and why we build where we do in the next issue of Ruralite.

The board of directors is the governing body for Plumas-Sierra REC and Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications. They set policy, strategic direction, rates, and budgets. They attend classes and work hard to understand the complexities of the electric utility industry and the telecommunications business. We thank them all for their hard work and commitment to PSREC.

The membership reelected Larry Price to District 1, Fred Nelson to District 3, and Dave Roberti to District 4.

Fires & Outages

This has been a rather intense summer. The Beckwourth Complex and Dixie fires wreaked havoc on our region. The Dixie Fire destroyed the two main transmission lines owned by PG&E in the Feather River Canyon that feed PSREC and the Quincy region for PG&E, and both fires have damaged and destroyed members’ homes and outbuildings. They also caused damage to our transmission and distribution lines as well as our fiber-optic lines. Damage to PSREC’s infrastructure was minimized due to the hard work of our operations crews. Around-the-clock work by the crews restored services quickly.

The investments we’ve made in our power transmission and fiber-optic system have paid off. We continue to move forward with building a bigger connection to the major transmission line to the east of our system.

Between the increased frequency of major fires and PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program, a more robust connection to the east is a necessity.

I could not be more proud of the employees of PSREC and PST during these events. This is a great example of the benefits of owning your utility and the cooperative business model. Our electric and telecommunications crews have been on top of the fires and have consistently started repairs the instant it was safe. Our system operations group has been on rotations to man the control room 24 hours a day. Joint electric/telecom projects were built almost overnight to give us better system control as the crisis has continued.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can contact me at by email or call me at (530) 832-4261
extension 6076.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — September 2021

Dear Members:

The cooperative’s 2021 annual meeting is Thursday, September 9, at 6:30 p.m. via webinar. It can be accessed from our website. There will be a link at the top of the page. If you want to navigate directly to the meeting, you can join the meeting here. You can listen in by calling (234) 203-2766 and entering access code 169-240-982.

We hope you will join us for an informative evening with updates, election results, and a question-and-answer session. We encourage you to submit questions in advance by emailing our Marketing department. We will also take questions via the chat option during the meeting.

Wildfire Impacts

We have been impacted by 2 large wildfires this season, and our area is under a state of emergency. I am so impressed by the hard work of our crews. The Beckwourth Complex Fire burned through our system, knocking out power in Lassen County for several hours and burning down 9 miles of our fiberoptic system, taking down internet service for about a week until our crews were able to replace the damaged cable. Our electric and telecommunications crews worked night and day to restore service and rebuild infrastructure to the hard-hit town of Doyle and to then re-hang all the fiber-optic cables.

Our vegetation management efforts have paid off in minimizing damage to the electric transmission lines. We will continue this program and expand it in the years to come. We will also aggressively continue our tree trimming and hazard tree removal programs.

The Dixie Fire did not seriously impact the Plumas-Sierra physical system, as of this writing. It is north and west of our electric grid, but has impacted a few fiber-optic customers.

That fire destroyed more than 100 PG&E power poles that are part of our primary power supply. We don’t buy power from PG&E, but they wheel power to us from our suppliers. We have relied on our backup power feed since July 21. That feed consists of a connection to NV Energy that cannot carry our full load. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) also built the High-Sierra Cogeneration Plant by the 2 state prisons east of Susanville to improve our voltage, generate low-carbon power and give us more capacity in case of the loss of the PG&E feed. We also worked with the U. S. Army to build the solar facility at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong.

All these improvements have allowed us to continue providing power with only a few short outages, but we often exceed the combined capacity during summer. To supplement the backup feed and our generation, we rented a 2-megawatt generator and attached it to our Graeagle Substation to keep the lights on for everyone. There is a very short outage each night to switch this generator off for refueling, but it is greatly reducing the need for longer rolling blackouts. We are renting another generator that will further reduce the load on our backup feed, further reducing the need for rolling blackouts.

Unfortunately, PG&E has informed us that, as of this writing, we will have an estimated additional six weeks before one of the main feeds is restored and we can go back to normal service for all of us. Please check our website for more information on this schedule.

Our members in Valley Ranch, Whitehawk, Gold Mountain, Clio, and other parts of upper Mohawk Valley are experiencing a 10-second outage almost each night.

This occurs when we switch back to our main grid from the generator.

We know this is an inconvenience, but this generator protects these members from rolling blackouts. We can’t rotate the circuits connected to the generator at the substation because the other Graeagle-area circuits have smaller loads, which would negate the value of the generator.

We have added a second generator at the Milford Substation, and the same 10-second outage will occur for members on that circuit.

PSREC serves 3 prisons and the Sierra Army Depot. I can’t thank all 4 entities enough for their efforts to keep the lights on for the rest of the members.

When we call for energy conservation it makes a real difference. Please sign up for our texting service, and when we ask you, please cut back. This applies to small commercial and irrigation members, as well as residential members. We know that the irrigators feed their families from what they grow and cutting back can be a big inconvenience, but any marginal pumps or load that can come off during our peak times helps keep everyone’s lights, water, pumps, and appliances on as much as possible.

For the latest updates, please check our website and social feeds, and sign up for text and email notifications by logging into SmartHub and selecting the notifications you would like to receive. If you need assistance, please contact us at (530) 832-4261.

We are working with our neighbors and investigating every option for improving our current situation. PSREC is already moving forward to construct a more robust and higher capacity connection to the 345-kilovolt line across the Nevada border. This new line will essentially eliminate problems from the PG&E delivery system and provide a backup link capable of serving our entire load in the future.

Two other entities have been especially helpful. NV Energy has been great in providing our backup, and the Northern California Power Agency has been extremely helpful in making alternative arrangements and helping us get more backup power.

I’d like to give special recognition to the cooperative’s system control and data acquisition group. Jason Harston, our manager of engineering and operations, and Matt Brubaker, Katie Willis, and Tim Retallack, our SCADA operators, have staffed the operations center 24 hours a day, adjusting the system to keep it functioning and adapting in real-time to problems on our backup system. Thank you all for your tremendous efforts to keep everyone’s lights on.

Telecommunications

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST) offers broadband services to Quincy and American Valley; parts of Cromberg/Sloat; Portola/Delleker; Mohawk Valley; Plumas Eureka; Johnsville; portions of C Road/Mohawk Vista; the Susan River Valley area, including Ward Lake and Gold Run; the southern part of Honey Lake Valley, including Doyle, Herlong, and the Sunnyside Road area; Red Rock; and Sierra Valley, including Calpine, Sattley, Sierraville and Sierra Brooks.

PST continues to improve and expand its broadband networks, prioritizing our member-owners. PST is working with PSREC on dual-purpose or hybrid projects where the electric cooperative gets expanded control of the electric grid, and PST rents some of the fiber to bring broadband to more members. We expect these types of projects to continue into the foreseeable future.

PST’s coaxial and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and 20 Mbps, respectively. Our fiber optic services can go as fast as 1 Gbps download, with dedicated business services available, if needed. With these speeds, you can stream videos on multiple devices at the same time without slowing down. You could even eliminate your cable or satellite TV bill with streaming services. For more information about our products, including coverage maps, please call (530) 832-4261 or visit Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications.

If you have any questions, please call me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076, or email me.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager and President’s Message — August 2021

Dear Members:

2020 was a productive year for Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST). We made great progress constructing the five California Advanced Services Fund grant projects to extend broadband services to the hardest-to-reach areas of our region, including C Road, Mohawk Vista, Keddie, Lake Davis, Johnsville, Wingfield Road, Gold Run, and Johnstonville. We connected 980 customers to broadband service during the year.

Members outside of the grant areas will benefit from the fiber optic network being brought closer to more neighborhoods, which will improve wireless service as well as coaxial service. A good example of this is Plumas Eureka, where PST was able to extend fiber-optic service from the grant area to adjacent areas with its own funds.

PST applied for an additional six CASF grants for our region. Areas include Long Valley, Spring Garden, Greenhorn, Mohawk Valley, Portola, Scott Road, Sierra Valley, and southern Lassen County. We were awarded the Scott Road grant and will begin construction of that project as soon as environmental reviews are complete. We will find out if we will be awarded grant funding for the other projects by the end of 2021.

We are often asked why we didn’t get a grant for a specific area, even though we received a grant for a community nearby. State programs are specific about which areas are eligible for grant funding. They must be deemed unserved or underserved by the California Public Utilities Commission based on internet service provider reporting data on areas covered. Unfortunately, these areas are based on census blocks. If a provider serves one customer in a census block, the entire block is deemed to be served.

CPUC staff has been working to improve the mapping and process for determining areas that are eligible for grant funding. We continue to apply for state funding as it is available.

PST offers broadband services to Quincy and American Valley; parts of Cromberg/Sloat; Portola/Delleker; Mohawk Valley; Plumas Eureka; Johnsville; portions of C Road/Mohawk Vista; the Susan River Valley area, including Ward Lake and Gold Run; the southern part of Honey Lake Valley, including Doyle, Herlong, and the Sunnyside Road area; Red Rock; and Sierra Valley, including Calpine, Sattley, Sierraville and Sierra Brooks.

PST continues to improve its broadband networks. As with our electric system, we steadily improve all our systems and expand our coverage. We continue to prioritize our member-owners. PST is working with the electric side of the house on dual-purpose or hybrid projects where the electric cooperative gets expanded control of the electric grid, and PST rents some of the fiber to bring broadband to more members. We expect these types of projects to continue into the foreseeable future.

PST’s coaxial and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and 20 Mbps, respectively. Our fiber optic services can go as fast as 1 Gbps download, with dedicated business services available, if needed. With these speeds, you can stream videos on multiple devices at the same time without slowing down. You could even eliminate your cable or satellite TV bill with streaming services.

We know there have been some issues with capacity limits on our wireless system. We are implementing a new backbone system to resolve this issue. Hopefully it will be completely done by the annual meeting. We continue improving speeds for all our services.

At PST, we took a number of steps to limit exposure to COVID-19 for our customers and employees. We modified our practices and started installing equipment on the exterior of homes. COVID-19 interrupted the supply chain of some of the necessary equipment for this, but we still were able to increase the number of outside enclosures on homes as the year progressed.

PST installed new internet hot spots with improved outdoor range to allow people to work or participate in online education activities from their cars during the pandemic. PST hotspots are free to the public. Locations of all our hotspots throughout the region are at www.pst.coop.

PST is a provider for the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which offers a monthly service discount of up to $50 for qualified households. To find out if you are eligible, visit www.getemergencybroadband.org.

For more information about our telecommunications products, including coverage maps visit Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications or call (530) 832-4261.

Sincerely,

David Hansen
PST Board President

Bob Marshall
General Manager