Manager’s Message

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

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — July 2021

Dear Members,

The 2021 annual meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 9. The August issue of Ruralite will have all the meeting details and your voting materials for the director election. Please be sure to look for that information.

Up for election are District 1 (Quincy– Sloat areas) served by Larry Price, District 3 (Blairsden–Clio–Portola areas) served by Fred Nelson, and District 4 (Calpine–Sierraville– Loyalton–Beckwourth areas) served by Dave Roberti.

If you are interested in running for the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) Board of Directors and live in one of those districts, please contact me as soon as possible. The deadline for nominations by petition is July 26.

If you are unsure of your district, please visit the PSREC website to view the map or call the office at (530) 832-4261.

A copy of the PSREC Director Qualifications and Nomination Procedures is available on our website.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs

Plumas-Sierra REC’s primary power connection is through Pacific Gas and Electric, and our backup is through NV Energy via our Marble Substation in Sierra Valley. Both PG&E and NV Energy have stated that Public Safety Power Shutoffs events are likely this summer due to the extreme drought and dry vegetation. If both of our power feeds are disconnected for PSPS events simultaneously, our entire system will be without power until one comes back online. Members need to be prepared for extended outages.

If someone in your home depends on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment, make a plan for backup power and contact the PSREC office to ensure you are on our lifeline list. Members on the lifeline list will be contacted if any planned outages on the system might affect their service.

We highly recommend all members subscribe to outage notifications to get the latest information. To sign up for text message and email notifications, log in to the SmartHub app from your mobile device or from our website and set your notification preferences. If you need assistance, please contact us at (530) 832-4261.

If you install a backup generator, the law requires that generators not connect to another power source, such as PSREC’s power lines. If you own and operate a generator, you are responsible for ensuring that electricity from your unit cannot backfeed—or flow into PSREC’s power lines.

For safety’s sake, be sure to use your generator correctly. Hire a licensed electrician to install a transfer switch that distributes power from the generator to your home’s circuit box. A double-pole, double-throw transfer switch is recommended to keep your generator from backfeeding onto PSREC’s system. The switch also prevents PSREC’s power from re-energizing your house while your generator runs, protecting your equipment when power is restored.

If you do not install and operate your generator correctly you risk damaging your property and endangering your life and the lives of PSREC lineworkers who may be working on power lines. You are responsible for any injuries or damage to your property, your neighbors’ or PSREC’s, from an improperly installed or operated generator and could be disconnected from PSREC’s system if an incorrectly installed generator is discovered.

Educational Webinars

During May and June, PSREC and PST hosted several educational webinars. If you missed the live webinars, you can view them on our website, Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications, and on our YouTube channel. The topics included: How to Maximize Your Internet Connection; PSREC Wildfire Mitigation, Public Safety Power Shutoffs and Vegetation Management; Electric Vehicles; and PST Broadband Expansion Plans.

Telecommunications

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST) participates in 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 the Get Emergency Broadband website.

PST is working on expanding broadband coverage of fiber optic service with speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second through grant applications to the California Advanced Services Fund and federal programs.

PST’s service offers unlimited data use so your family can stop fighting over bandwidth. If you haven’t already contacted us to sign up for service or get on our interest list, give us a call at 530-832-4261 or visit our website.

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 — June 2021

As wildfire season rapidly approaches, we all need to be prepared. Learn how to protect your home and family at the Ready for Wildfire website.

Being prepared includes being ready for Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) plans to turn off portions of its grid during extreme fire danger, high wind events, and other critical situations. PG&E notified us it intends to disconnect lines in medium- to high-risk areas in the Sierras. This could affect our primary power supply that comes through the Feather River Canyon.

When PG&E notifies us it intends to shut off our transmission feed, we will provide as much notice as possible to members. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) will post information to our website, Facebook and Twitter, our SmartHub app, and will contact members via email and text message. To sign up for text message and email notifications, log in to the SmartHub app from your mobile device or from our website and set your notification preferences. If you need assistance, please contact us at (530) 832-4261.

During PG&E shutoff events, we will switch to our backup transmission feed from NV Energy. There is a limit to how much energy we can bring through that line, so members need to be prepared for outages and rolling blackouts. During a power outage, please disconnect all nonessential electrical loads. Every light and appliance turned off will help PSREC re-energize more of our system. If our power transmission system is constrained, conservation helps keep our electrical system stable and enables us to serve you and your neighbors.

Plumas-Sierra has also taken steps to reduce our fire risk. We have switched our system to “single shot”, meaning that our system will not try to reclose into a fault. This is normal for us to do during July, August, and September, but due to the extreme drought, we went to single shot in May, the earliest we have ever done so. To our members, this means we will have more short outages. We have to patrol the lines once that circuit opens, and we will bring back power in sections. Our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system will help with the restoration of power, but most of our circuits will take some time to restore power once the circuit is tripped. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we don’t have a choice. Being on single shot was the reason for the outage affecting Cromberg, Greenhorn Ranch, and American Valley on May 9.

Preparing for power outages can help make the best of a bad situation. Equip your home with a power outage kit that includes a flashlight, battery-powered lamp or lantern, and extra batteries; candles and matches; a battery-powered radio with extra batteries; easily accessible emergency phone numbers for your utility, doctor, fire, and police; a telephone connected directly to the phone jack (corded phones do not require electricity to operate); a one-week supply of drinking water and nonperishable food; and a cooler for storing frequently used foods. Food spoils more quickly if the refrigerator door is opened. Keep these items on hand to make an outage more tolerable: a manual can opener; an alternative cooking source; and a deck of cards, board games, and books.

If someone in your home depends on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment, make a plan for backup power.

If you are going to install a generator and connect it to your home’s electrical system, please make sure it is installed to code using an automated system such as a Generac switch, or a manual double-pull double-throw switch that separates your house from the grid.

Failure to install these measures could cause injury or fire, leading to potentially massive liability on your part and disconnection from the grid, if discovered.

For more information on a double-pull double-throw switch, please talk to a licensed electrician.

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, propane, or charcoal-burning device inside a home or garage. Locate the unit away from doors, windows, and vents to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide.

Please install surge protectors on any sensitive electronics and appliances. Be sure to buy surge protectors that have a warranty for your connected load.

Telecommunications

PST continues to expand and upgrade its broadband network throughout the region. We now provide fiber-optic service to areas of Portola, Quincy, Graeagle, Plumas Pines, Johnsville, Mohawk Vista, Janesville, and many other towns and neighborhoods.

PST’s coax and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 20 Megabits per second. Our fiber optic services can go up to 1 gigabyte per second, with even faster speeds 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 bill by switching to streaming services. For more information and to sign up for service, call us at (530) 832-4261 or visit the Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications website.

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

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — May 2021

Dear Members:

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) participated in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Virtual Legislative Rally April 19 to 23, along with representatives from Anza Electric Cooperative, Surprise Valley Electrification Corp., Trinity Public Utility District, and Golden State Power Cooperative.

We met with many of California’s congressional representatives and senators. During these meetings, we discussed important issues that could impact our member-owners here in California and electric cooperatives across the nation, including continued funding for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program and funding for rural broadband infrastructure.

Upcoming Webinars

We will be hosting several webinars in May and June and hope you will be able to join us.

  • How to Maximize Your Internet Connection. May 5, 12 to 1 pm at Microsoft Teams
  • Public Safety Power Shutoffs and Vegetation Management. May 19, 6 to 7 pm at Microsoft Teams
  • Electric Vehicles. June 2, 12 to 1 pm in coordination with the Center for Sustainable Energy. To register, visit our website.
  • PST Broadband Expansion Plans. June 9, 12 to 1 pm at Microsoft Teams

Director Elections

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

This year, Districts 1, 3, and 4 are up for election. District 1 (Quincy–Sloat areas) is served by Larry Price, District 3 (Blairsden– Clio–Portola areas) is served by Fred Nelson and District 4 (Calpine–Sierraville–Loyalton– Beckwourth areas) is served by Dave Roberti. If you would like to check which district you live in, the boundaries of each district 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.

Look Up & Live

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 any long objects, make sure you look up and be sure to avoid power lines.

Telecommunications

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST) is now offering fiber-optic broadband service to customers in parts of Plumas Pines, Portola, Johnsville, Keddie, Chandler Road, and some of its side roads, as well as areas of Sunnyside Road, Amesbury Drive, and Jura Drive. Speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second are available to residential and business customers.

With speeds this fast, you can stream videos on multiple devices at the same time without slowing down. We have had many customers replace their TV provider with streaming services, ultimately lowering their monthly bills.

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

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 2021

Dear Members:

April is Lineworker Appreciation Month. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) 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 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.

Telecommunications

Service is now available in new areas. We are able to connect fiber optic to customers in parts of Plumas Pines, Portola, Johnsville, Keddie, Chandler Road, and some of its side roads, as well as areas of Sunnyside Road, Amesbury Drive, and Jura Drive. Speeds of up to 1 gigabyte a second are available to residential and business customers.

We have received an additional grant to expand broadband to the Scott Road area, and are awaiting final decisions on our other grant applications for Old Truckee Road, Greenhorn, Spring Garden, La Porte Road, and other remote areas of Mohawk Valley and Long Valley.

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.

PST’s fiber-optic services offer speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second, our coax service offers speeds up to 25 megabytes a second (Mbps) 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, get on our interest list or sign up for service by calling us at (530) 832-4261 or visiting Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications.

Fire Prevention

As the weather improves, we will begin our rights-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.

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 2021

Dear Members:

We are pleased to announce we received a grant to offer fiber optic service to the Scott Road area and the area west of Bordertown in Sierra Valley. This comes on top of the five grants we are wrapping up.

Some of our members have asked about their locations, and we realized we hadn’t shared all the areas we have been trying to get funding for.

The California Public Utilities Commission oversees the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), which funds broadband expansion in very tightly defined areas that do not have adequate service. Across the country, there is a problem with internet providers reporting more coverage than they really have, leading to many areas not being eligible for funding. This is true in California. We are seeing changes in the process, but improvements with coverage reporting are slow to implement.

The other issue is state funding. We applied for six grants in 2020 but were only awarded one for the Scott Road area. The others were not awarded due to oversubscription of the CASF program throughout the state and the State of California budget shortfall due to COVID. We applied for a variety of areas, including Elysian Valley, parts of Doyle, Johnstonville, eastern Sierra Valley, C-Road/Mohawk Vista, parts of Cromberg/Spring Garden, and even Old Truckee Road in Sierraville.

We are rerunning the numbers and reapplying for many of these areas. When we construct the awarded projects—and other projects of our own—it also allows us to serve homes along the route, including Sunnyside Road and Wingfield Road on the way to Gold Run. Our members at the end of Chandler Road going north benefited from a grant to serve the Old Highway community by Keddie.

The grant projects take a lot of work with short timelines. We try to make sure that we serve as many of you as possible while keeping our existing services up and running.

In addition to the grant projects, PSREC and PST work together on fiber projects that benefit both entities and our members. We built to Sierraville and Calpine on a joint project. Currently, we are developing the plan to reach most of Plumas-Eureka Estates this year. PST is also working on expanding service to Loyalton.

We are continuing improvements on our other services. We just finished upgrading the wireless transmitter at SIRCO in Herlong, allowing faster speeds and less congestion. We are also working on improving service in Sierra Valley as the reliance on at-home learning and at-home entertainment have stressed our system.

Please 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, please 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.

Through our secure SmartHub app, we have 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 while there are 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 one, create an online profile in SmartHub to access this helpful information. To get started, go to 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 contact information. By ensuring we have your most accurate and complete contact information, we can continue to provide the high level of service that 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 can provide advance notification to affected members through automated phone messages, text messages, or email if we have your updated contact information and communication preferences.

Rest assured, when you provide your contact information to the co-op, we will never share this information 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 at our website, through the SmartHub app, or by calling us at (530) 832-4261.

Scholarships

Attending a college or university next fall? PSREC and PST offer two $1,000 scholarships. Full details and an application can be found at our website. The application deadline is April 26.

Get Ready for Spring Safely

Spring is just around the corner, and we are starting to make plans 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 locate and mark the location of underground lines where you plan to dig.

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

Be aware of any overhead power lines in your area as well. 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