Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — April 2020

Dear Members:

Lineworker Appreciation Day is April 13. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative’s lineworkers are responsible for keeping power flowing day and night, regardless of national 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’ mentality of helping others often extends beyond their commitment to their work at the co-op.

Lineworkers are often familiar figures in the community. They can be found coaching youth sports teams, volunteering for local charities and serving on local advisory boards.

Monday, April 13, is Lineworker Appreciation Day. Given the dedication of PSREC’s lineworkers, both on and off the job, I encourage you to take a moment and acknowledge the many contributions they make to our local community.

Communications

Have you visited PSREC and PST’s Facebook pages lately? If you are curious and want the most up-to-date information about your cooperative and its subsidiary, please find
us on Facebook under Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications. Please also take a moment to review us on Google, Yelp and Facebook.

We post systemwide power outage notifications and other useful information, such as updates and tips. If you are not on Facebook, no worries! Check out www.psrec.coop and www.pst.coop to stay informed. You can also receive outage information via text message.

To sign up for text notifications, login to the SmartHub app from your mobile device, or from www.psrec.coop and set your notification preferences.

With the SmartHub app, available for Apple and Android devices, you can pay your bill, view your energy-use history, report outages, view outage information and contact us from the convenience of your smartphone, tablet or other devices.

Telecommunications

Service is now available in new regions! We are able to connect fiber optic to customers in Sierraville, Sattley, Calpine, Chandler Road and some of its side roads, as well as the main part of Quincy south of Highway 70. Speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second are available to residential and business customers.

In addition, our electric and telecommunications businesses are working together to expand our electric system data control, meaning our telecommunications business is able to sell the surplus capacity on this system to our member-owners.

We have received grants in some parts of our region as well, allowing for further fiber-optic expansion. If you are looking for service, or are 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 that our services were about to arrive, they wouldn’t have signed up for a long- term contract.

Areas we are working on connecting later in the year include Plumas-Eureka Estates, Johnsville, Lake Davis, Grizzly Road and Wingfield Road.

PST’s fiber-optic services offer speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second, and our coax and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 20 megabytes per second. With these speeds, you can stream videos on multiple devices at the same time without slowing down. You could even eliminate your TV bill with streaming services.

We continue to expand broadband coverage throughout the region, so if you haven’t already, get on our interest list or sign up for service by calling us at 800- 221-3474 or visiting www.pst.coop.

COVID-19

We would like to encourage our membership to try to conduct as much business as possible with us via email and phone until we know more about the impact of the virus.

Please check our website to see if our office is open for face-to-face transactions. As we go to print with this issue of Ruralite, it is difficult to predict what the impact of the virus will be in early April, so please review the website and our Facebook page for the latest information.

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please call me at (800) 555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — March 2020

Dear Members:

At Plumas-Sierra REC, we strive to improve our operational efficiency so we can provide the most reliable electric service possible for our members.

We rely on data for nearly every aspect of our operations, which is why we need your help. By making sure we have your most accurate and complete contact information, we can 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 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.

Many of you have been members of the co-op for years, and it’s likely your account information hasn’t been updated for some time. We recognize that many members now use a cellphone as their primary phone service, and we might not have that number in our system.

I want to emphasize that in providing your contact information to the co-op, we will never share this information with any third parties. It is only used by PSREC to send important information to you.

Please take a moment to confirm or update your contact information by signing into your account through the SmartHub app or by calling us at 1(800) 555-2207. By doing so, you will help us improve service and efficiency so we can better serve you and all members of the co-op.

Telecommunications

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications has completed construction of its fiber optic network on Chandler Road, American Way and Hillside, as well as to Sierraville and Sattley. Parts of Calpine will be open for scheduling for new services in the near future, so please sign up now.

This fiber optic expansion provides broadband services with download speeds up to 1 Gbps and unlimited data use.

If you aren’t already on our interest list, please visit the PST website or call 1(800) 221-3474 to sign up for service.

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please call me at 1(800) 555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,
Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — February 2020

Dear Members:

As this gets to you in the heart of winter, there is still the possibility for major storms. A key way for all of us to get power back in the event of an outage is to conserve power, when possible, during storms. The lower the load on the system, the easier it is to restore power. Should rotating blackouts be required, we will work to provide members time to cook, bathe and do laundry. If everyone keeps their use to a minimum during a rolling blackout, we can supply more members with power. When we were on limited supplies for three straight weeks due to the Camp Fire, we were able to keep the lights on to virtually all of our members because many of you reduced your use.

PSREC has a new system for outage notifications. It lets us get more granular with outages, getting down to neighborhoods, instead of just broad regions. These notifications are provided via email and text messages. To sign up for these notices, sign into SmartHub at www.psrec.coop, and visit the Manage Notifications section to select the alerts you would like to receive. If you need assistance, please give us a call at (530)832-4261.

Community Solar

The PSREC Community Solar Program is still offering 100-kilowatt-hours-a-month blocks to members who want to use solar. PSREC offers members the choice of a monthly adder to their existing rate or a one-time upfront fee to participate in the Community Solar Program.

Buying solar power from PSREC’s Community Solar Program is a great option for members who may not want to make the large upfront investment in a solar system, are renting, or live in an area with shading where a solar system would not produce optimal energy output. Community solar is a great, maintenance-free way to use renewable power without solar panels on your roof. We are working on a short-term payment plan that will make it easier to go solar. For more information, or to sign up for the PSREC Community Solar Program, please call us at (530)832-4261 or visit www.psrec.coop.

Telecommunications

It’s been an exciting time for our telecommunications business. We are working to get fiber optics to the premise for both Sierraville and Calpine, and we have also expanded service on Chandler Road and its offshoots. Additional wireless access points are planned in Sierraville and Milford. Upgrades are also being performed in other locations across our system.

We are pleased to report the main part of Quincy south of Highway 70 now has fiber to the home, offering download speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second.

Perhaps the most exciting news is that Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications has received grants from the California Public Utilities Commission’s California Advanced Services Fund to bring service to hard-to-reach areas on our system and in the community. One key area receiving grant funding is Lake Davis.

We have quite a bit of work underway. PST is expanding broadband services throughout the region with unlimited data, net neutrality and download speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second on our fiber-optic network.

For more information, or to sign up for service, please call us at (530) 832-4126 or view services on the PST website.

Scholarships

Two $1,000 scholarships are available. See page 5 for details. The deadline is Monday, April 27.

For more information, please call me at (530) 832-4261 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,
Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2020

Dear Members:

Happy New Year! 2019 was a full, productive year for Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications.

We are pleased to announce we were awarded the five California Advanced Services Fund grants we applied for to bring broadband services to the hardest-to-reach areas of our region. We will begin construction of the projects during the first quarter of 2020.

PSREC continued its increased vegetation management and removal of hazard trees on the system to improve reliability and fire safety. We appreciate the increased cooperation we have had from our members on this key reliability and safety issue. PSREC also continued to improve system reliability and response times through our supervisory control and data acquisition system. State law requires that all property owners allow cooperative staff and contractors to remove hazard trees that meet the state definition.

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 www.psrec.coop for information on outage preparedness and electrical safety.

PSREC has changed its outage notification system to provide more localized outage information to members. To view the most up-to-date outage information, or report an outage, please log into the PSREC SmartHub app on your Apple or Android device, or log in at www.psrec.coop. As of February 29, we will no longer use the current text messaging system. You will automatically receive email notifications of outages if you have an email address on file with PSREC, but to continue to receive text messages, you must log into SmartHub and activate your mobile number in the new system. Instructions on how to add your mobile number for outage notifications can be found on page 4, at www.psrec.coop, or by calling us. Please report all outages to us, day or night, at 800-555-2207 or through the SmartHub app.

Telecommunications

PST crews are wrapping up work to complete the coax-to-fiber conversion to provide broadband services to Chandler Road and the surrounding area. They have also completed converting a large portion of west Quincy to fiber optics as well. We were delayed on finishing Sierraville and Calpine due to materials delays, but we will be working to complete them as soon as possible.

Please call us at 800-221-3474 or visit www.pst.coop for more information.

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 and Washoe counties. An application can be found on page 28. The deadline is April 27. More information can also be found on our website at www.psrec.coop.

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please call me at 800-555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2019

Dear Members:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season. If you or your family are decorating for the holidays, please remember to not overload outlets and circuits, and always look up for overhead lines before you install any tall features or exhibits.

Telecommunications News

On Friday, November 1, the California Public Utilities Commission posted draft resolutions to provide funding for the five grant applications that Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications submitted in May. The commission will be voting on these resolutions at their December 5, meeting. We are hopeful that we will be notified shortly after the meeting that PST has authorization to begin construction of the projects that will bring broadband services to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of our region, including Lake Davis, Mohawk Vista, Elysian Valley/Gold Run, Johnsville and Keddie.

Expansion of broadband services in Quincy is going well. We recently opened a new area of West Quincy on fiber optics and are making progress on the Chandler Road fiber construction. You can check availability for your location at www.pst.coop, or by calling 530-832-4261. By the time this reaches you, we also hope to be finishing off the Sierraville-Calpine project, including a new advanced wireless system for southern Sierra Valley and direct fiber optic connections for our members along the route.

PST’s internet services are unlimited, so you don’t have to worry about data caps, and speeds go 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.

Eyes and Ears

It’s been a long autumn for many of California’s residents. We have been lucky that no fires have affected our homes like we have seen in California’s Coastal Range. We spend a tremendous amount of time and money grooming our right-of-ways and maintaining our equipment but it is a never-ending job. We have been able to keep the lights on, but 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 that you think there may be an equipment malfunction or that 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 per day, 365 days per year at 800-555-2207.

Capital Credits

One of the ways electric cooperatives are different 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 the net profits of PSREC to each member based upon the amount of electricity they 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 2019.

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

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

To learn more about our services, please visit www.psrec.coop.

If you have any questions, please call me at (800) 555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – November 2019

Dear Members:

In the middle of October, we received many calls and questions about PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs that affected a great deal of the state of California. The two primary questions revolved around why we weren’t affected by the PSPS events and the “real” reasons for the shutoffs.

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative buys its power from the federal government through the Western Area Power Administration, through jointly owned power projects with the Northern California Power Agency, through its own projects on the system, and through its connection with the Nevada grid.

Our connection to the west is through 60,000-volt sub-transmission lines that come to us through the Feather River Canyon from the Caribou powerhouses run by PG&E. We don’t buy from PG&E, but our normal supply is wheeled to us through their system.

If the Caribou powerhouse is cut off from the main PG&E system, PG&E can carry part of our load as well as their Quincy load.

If the lines from Caribou to Quincy go down, we have the ability to carry most, if not all, of the cooperative’s members by using our own generators, switching our feed to the Nevada grid, and with the cooperation of the three prisons on our system using their generators.

That’s why our members generally enjoy more reliable service than PG&E’s customers to the west of us.

Which brings us to the PSPS. The major utilities in California have all been involved with major fires started in connection with their power grids. Sometimes it has been their fault, and sometimes not.

Due to a court case some time ago, the state’s constitution was interpreted so that all electric utilities are held to a strict liability standard. That means the utility is to blame even if the incident isn’t directly the utility’s fault. For example, if someone cuts a tree that falls into our lines because they didn’t look up first, we can still be held liable.

Sometimes it is the utility’s fault. PG&E has admitted liability for the Camp Fire, but there are other fires associated with the utility grid that have nothing to do with how the utility behaved.

As a response to these fires, the California Public Utilities Commission and the state legislature have passed rules and laws that require utilities to set conditions on when they should de-energize their system to prevent catastrophes like the state experienced in recent years. Some utilities are taking a broad stroke on this.

Which brings us to the Plumas-Sierra system. Plumas-Sierra has been on a 25-year all-out campaign to improve our right-of-way maintenance, removing thousands of overcrowded trees that were threatening our lines. It has not been cheap, but it has paid off in better reliability, better relationships with the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies, and reduced risk of fires.

It’s been a sustained campaign by our operations staff, backed by your board of directors. We have even successfully worked to get state law changed so we have the right to access private property when trees on private land threaten our system.

When the management and board of PSREC analyzed when we should turn off our system due to weather conditions, we made the decision to only disconnect our system during extreme weather events.

This draft decision was shared with the membership at the annual meeting, and received strong support.

This has been the subject of a great deal of discussion inside the utility business. You normally don’t have to worry about the inner workings of the business because you have the cooperative for that, but in this case it’s good to share how we got here.

PSREC has been in discussions with the other utilities around us, including Truckee Donner PUD, Liberty Utilities, NV Energy and others. We all serve the mountains, and due to the snow we receive, we have all built our systems to a heavy-duty standard.

NV Energy adopted a PSPS standard that includes the potential for power shutoffs, but its power shutoffs would be rare.

Given that we’ve built our system to the same standard, and we’ve been grooming our rights-of-way for decades to a high standard, we have set a similar shutoff threshold. This seems like the prudent course of action.

Most fires are not caused by power, and it’s tough to fight a fire—especially at the initial small stage of a fire—without water. In our region, the vast majority of our water comes from wells.

The last puzzle piece is the availability of linemen to patrol our lines after a PSPS. PG&E and other utilities will not turn power back on to a region until they can inspect each pole.

In the case of our connection to Nevada, it is relatively quick and easy to patrol the NV lines from Marble Hot Springs to Loyalton and then to Truckee (the route of the lines). NV, Liberty and PSREC cooperate on inspecting lines in the hopefully rare case that a PSPS is implemented. That would make the difference between a PSPS being a few hours of outage on our electric grid, and it being several days of outage for the larger utilities.

PSREC’s crews work year-round to prevent outages and prepare for winter storms. 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 www.psrec.coop. To receive updates on major, systemwide outages via text message, text “PSREC” to 800-555-2207.

Winter Rate Assistance Program

We are accepting applications for the Winter Rate Assistance Program, which offers a discounted rate for November through April use 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 an application, visit www.psrec.coop, or call 530-832-4261.

Youth Opportunities

Plumas-Sierra and its subsidiary offer many life-changing opportunities to local young people, including scholarships and the Washington Youth Tour.

These programs provide enriching experiences to help young people discover themselves and their roles as citizens. They also introduce them to the cooperative way, teaching the value of involvement and commitment to their communities.

Application deadlines are fast approaching. Don’t let your children miss out on these opportunities. Please see page 4 of this month’s issue of Ruralite magazine for more information about the Washington Youth Tour.

Applications and information on our youth programs are available on our website at www.psrec.coop, or by calling the Member Services Department at 530-832-4261.

Telecommunications

PST is replacing the coax system in west Quincy with fiber optics and is scheduling customer installations in some areas.

If you have not already contacted us to be placed on our interest list to be contacted when we get to your area, please call us at 800-221-3474 or visit our website at www.pst.coop. We are also working on expanding service into Chandler Road.

PST submitted five grant applications to the California Advanced Services Fund to expand broadband coverage to the hardest-to-reach parts of our service area. We will find out this month if we have been awarded funding.

If you have any questions, please call me at (800) 555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – October 2019

Dear Members:

The 2019 PSREC Annual Member Meeting was a great event. Thanks to everyone who joined us for the evening. The Las Plumas 4-H Club served an excellent dinner of tri-tip sandwiches, pulled-pork sandwiches and veggie burgers, and one lucky member went home with a $500 credit toward their electric bill. During the event, Plumas-Sierra

Telecommunications highlighted its plans for broadband expansion in the region. If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can get information on our broadband services by visiting www.pst.coop.

One exciting project discussed was the Sierraville build. We have completed the fiber optic line between the Marble Substation (on A-23) and the Sierraville Substation, and have also gained access to two additional distribution switches, allowing better control of our electric system.

The project includes fiber optic along our distribution line on Highway 89 north from Sierraville to Sattley and Holstrom’s Mill. Businesses and homes along, or near, the line can sign up for broadband service.

There are other parts of the southern valley that can see our Sierraville Substation, where we are installing a new access point for our advanced wireless system to provide broadband services to members with a clear line-of-sight to the access point.

The fiber optic line will continue north to Calpine, hopefully by year’s end.

We are expanding service in and around Chandler Road in the Quincy area, and will find out if we will be awarded grant funding in November to continue broadband expansion into the hardest-to-reach areas of our system.

Sonja Anderson of the Western Area Power Administration and Randy Howard of the Northern California Power Agency provided updates on the electric industry during the business meeting. They discussed key issues facing your cooperative and the electric utility industry as a whole. A key takeaway from the meeting was the need for the cooperative to stay active politically to protect the interests of our member-owners.

We had a lively question-and-answer session, covering both broadband expansion and the cooperative’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

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 electrical utility industry and the telecommunications business. We thank them all for their hard work and commitment to PSREC.

The membership reelected Dick Short to District 2 and David Hansen to District 5.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can contact me at 800-555-2207 extension 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – October 2019

Dear Members:

The 2019 PSREC Annual Member Meeting was a great event. Thanks to everyone who joined us for the evening. The Las Plumas 4-H Club served an excellent dinner of tri-tip sandwiches, pulled-pork sandwiches and veggie burgers, and one lucky member went home with a $500 credit toward their electric bill.

During the event, Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications highlighted its plans for broadband expansion in the region. If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can get information on our broadband services by visiting www.pst.coop.

One exciting project discussed was the Sierraville build. We have completed the fiber optic line between the Marble Substation (on A-23) and the Sierraville Substation and have also gained access to two additional distribution switches, allowing better control of our electric system.

The project includes fiber optic along our distribution line on Highway 89 north from Sierraville to Sattley and Holstrom’s Mill. Businesses and homes along, or near, the line can sign up for broadband service.

There are other parts of the southern valley that can see our Sierraville Substation, where we are installing a new access point for our advanced wireless system to provide broadband services to members with a clear line-of-sight to the access point.

The fiber optic line will continue north to Calpine, hopefully by year’s end.

We are expanding service in and around Chandler Road in the Quincy area, and will find out if we will be awarded grant funding in November to continue broadband expansion into the hardest-to-reach areas of our system.

Sonja Anderson of the Western Area Power Administration and Randy Howard of the Northern California Power Agency provided updates on the electric industry during the business meeting. They discussed key issues facing your cooperative and the electric utility industry as a whole. A key takeaway from the meeting was the need for the cooperative to stay active politically to protect the interests of our member-owners.

We had a lively question-and-answer session, covering both broadband expansion and the cooperative’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

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 electrical utility industry and the telecommunications business. We thank them all for their hard work and commitment to PSREC.

The membership re-elected Dick Short to District 2 and David Hansen to District 5.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can contact me at 800-555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – September 2019

Dear Members:

The cooperative’s 2019 annual meeting is Thursday, September 5. We hope you will join us for an informative evening at the Sierra Valley Grange. We will have the election for the board of directors for Districts 2 and 5. If you do not vote by mail, you can vote at the meeting.

The board of directors moved the meeting to a Thursday evening for the convenience of the members. We received a good deal of feedback that it was hard for people to give up a full Saturday. As some of you may remember, we used to have the meeting on Friday evenings, so this is a bit of a throwback.

This is a great opportunity to ask questions about your electric cooperative and its telecommunications business. There will be great prizes, including $500 off one lucky member’s electric bill.

Telecommunications Expansion

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications is currently focused in American Valley. We are scheduling Bellamy Track (behind Plumas District Hospital), and are replacing the old coaxial system in west Quincy with fiber optics. We are also adding customers in parts of Chandler Road, though some areas will take more time to get to. We will discuss our plans for additional areas at the annual meeting.

We are also working with various communities on hard-to-reach areas, and have applied for grant funding from the California Advanced Services Fund. We will know in November if we are awarded grant funds to continue broadband expansion in these hard-to-reach areas.

For more information about our telecommunications products, including coverage maps, please visit www.pst.coop.

Joint Electric/Telecommunications Project Underway

We have received quite a few inquiries about the progress of our joint electric/telecommunications project to building a fiber optic line to Sierraville and then Sattley and Calpine. The project is underway, with rapid progress made from the Marble Substation to the Sierraville Substation. The first leg of the project will go to the end of Sierraville on Highway 89.

We will also build an advanced wireless broadcast point at the Sierraville Substation, allowing good coverage. From there, fiber optic service will extend back to Sattley and north to Calpine.

PSREC will greatly benefit from control of key switches and our substation. This will allow faster restoration of power and better control of our system with winter storms and fire risks. Our telecommunications subsidiary, PST, will rent data capacity from PSREC, making the whole project cost effective.

Now is the time to sign up for this project. Let us know about your interest by calling 800-221-3474 or visiting www.pst.coop.

WRAP Program

We are again offering a discounted rate for qualifying members through our Winter Rate Assistance Program. The discounted rate is available for November through April electricity use to income-qualified members.

For more information and an application, visit www.psrec.coop, or call 530-832-4261.

Youth Opportunities

As part of our commitment to the communities we serve, PSREC and its subsidiary offer life-changing opportunities to local youth, including scholarships and the Washington Youth Tour.

These programs provide enriching experiences to help young people discover themselves and their roles as citizens.

They also introduce them to the cooperative way, teaching the value of involvement and commitment to their communities.

Please see page 4 for more information about the Washington Youth Tour. Visit www.psrec.coop for more information on all of our youth opportunities.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 800-555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager and President’s Message – August 2019

Dear Members:

2018 was a full, productive year for PSREC and PST. PSREC continued to improve system reliability and response times through our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system. The operations department worked hard to upgrade and automate control of key switches, which will accelerate power restoration in outage situations.

We also increased our vegetation management and removal of hazard trees on our system for reliability and fire safety. State law now requires landowners to allow us on private property to remove trees that are hazardous to our power lines, even when outside of the right-of-way. We appreciate the increased cooperation we have had from our members on this key reliability and safety issue.

The Camp Fire was a horrific event for our neighbors in Butte County. Our cooperative, and the region, was affected as the main feed from PG&E between the central valley and Plumas County was cut a few minutes after 8 a.m. on November 8. PSREC switched to our backup power supply within a few minutes, and stayed partially or wholly on backup power for a few hours short of three weeks.

PSREC has invested in a connection to the Nevada grid and our own cogeneration facility between the state prisons near Susanville. Because we invested in improvements to our system controls, we were able to quickly switch our system in discrete pieces that greatly increased the speed of restoring power. In addition, our brand new solar plant at the Sierra Army Depot came on line in time to help cover our morning peaks.

Your board of directors has invested in a reliable grid year after year. We have a far-flung electric system with only six customers per mile of line. These investments have paid off. If it wasn’t for our sustained efforts over time, we would have been faced with a long outage and then rolling blackouts for three weeks.

PSREC does all it can to prevent wildfires from starting in our service area. We extensively trim and remove hazard trees and vegetation from our rights-of-way and put our system on single-shot, which means that if a fault is detected, the line is shut down. This will prevent our equipment from trying to reclose, or re-energize, helping to decrease the risk of a limb or debris in the lines igniting. Single-shot settings during the fire season do mean longer outage times so crews can fully investigate and patrol the lines before re-energizing.

To reduce the risk of incidents such as the Camp Fire, PG&E will turn off portions of its grid during extreme fire danger, high wind events and other critical situations. PG&E has notified us it intends to disconnect lines in medium- to high-risk areas in the Sierras, affecting our primary power supply that comes through the Feather River Canyon.

We will switch to our backup transmission feed from NV Energy, if they haven’t also shut their system off, but 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.

We will provide as much notice as possible to members when PG&E notifies us it intends to shut off our transmission feed. PSREC will post information on www.psrec.coop, Facebook and Twitter, and via text message. To sign up for text messages, text “PSREC” to 800-555-2207.

Rates

The electric utility industry in California is rapidly changing due to legislation and wildfire impacts. Given the last two horrific fire years, the California Legislature and the California Public Utilities Commission have been busy adding additional requirements for all electric utilities in California. Sometimes, and for some utilities, these regulations make great sense. In other cases, they add significant costs with marginal benefits, especially to utilities that have been working hard to maintain and operate a safe electrical grid.

Your board of directors and management team strives to operate the cooperative in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible, but the costs to operate the cooperative are increasing.

We hosted member meetings in May to discuss rates and PSREC’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan. We received a lot of good input and suggestions from members.  Everyone was sent information on the rate changes in Ruralite magazine and bill inserts.

As much as possible, we try to operate on a cost-of-service basis, meaning each member pays the costs associated with providing service to their property, and each rate class should have roughly the same rate of return. Our cooperative’s costs do not change much with use. Up to 70 percent of our costs are fixed, including the cost of operating the utility and the fixed portion of our power plants. We are collecting only a portion of our fixed costs through facilities charges. We also try to get the cost of service as close as possible to actual costs when looking at all-electric homes versus homes that use primarily propane, or seasonal versus full-time residents. For these reasons, the rate increase was to the facilities charge so we can collect more of our fixed costs through the fixed fees.  We expect in the long run to shift more of the rates to our fixed charges while flattening or lowering our kWh fees.

Community Solar

As you may have seen in previous issues, the PSREC Community Solar Program is now offering 100 kilowatt-hours-a-month blocks to members. PSREC offers members the choice of a monthly adder to their existing rate or a onetime upfront fee to participate in the Community Solar Program.

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

Community Solar is also a great way to keep the benefits of a solar system even if we reduce our kWh fees and increase the fixed charges over time.

We hope you will join us at the annual member meeting on Thursday, September 5 at the Sierra Valley Grange in Vinton at 4:30 p.m.

Telecommunications

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications is working to expand broadband coverage with fiber optic service in west Quincy and Chandler Road, with speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second. PST’s service offers unlimited data use so your family can stop fighting over bandwidth.

If you haven’t already contacted us to get on our interest list, give us a call at 800-221-3474 or visit our website at www.pst.coop so we can contact you as soon as service is available in your area.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 800-555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me at bmarshall@psrec.coop.

Sincerely,

Fred Nelson
Board President

Bob Marshall
General Manager