Manager’s Message

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

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – July 2019

Dear Members:

As part of its cost reduction efforts, your board of directors has changed the format of the 2019 annual membership meeting. This year’s annual meeting is Thursday, September 5, at the Sierra Valley Grange, 92202 Highway 70, Vinton. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m., with the business meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Dinner is served beginning at 5 p.m.

Up for election are District 2 (Graeagle-Mohawk areas) served by Dick Short, and District 5 (Lake Davis-Long Valley-Washoe County areas) served by David Hansen.

If you are interested in running for the 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 22.

If you are unsure of your district, please visit our website to view the map, or call the office at 800-555-2207.

A copy of the PSREC Qualifications and Nomination Procedures is available on our website at www.psrec.coop.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs

PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs will affect Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative’s transmission feed. PSREC will use backup resources as much as possible to keep the impact of these shutoffs as minimal as possible, but members need to be prepared for outages and possible rolling blackouts.

We will provide as much notice as possible, and will post information at www.psrec.coop, on social media and via text message. To sign up for text message notifications, text “PSREC” to 800-555-2207.

For more information on Public Safety Power Shutoffs and how to be prepared, please visit www.psrec.coop/about/psps.

If you or someone in your home has special medical equipment, please contact the PSREC office during normal business hours and ask to be put on the Life Line list. Please provide us with a landline or cellphone number, as wireless phones do not work without electricity. 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 the electrical system of your house, please make sure this is done to code using an automated system like a Generac switch, or a manual double-pull double-throw switch that separates your house from the grid. Failure to do so 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.

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,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – June 2019

Dear Members:

Thank you for participating in the meetings last month to provide your input on the proposed rate increase and PSREC’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan. We received a lot of good input and suggestions from members.

The board of directors has approved the rate increase, which will affect the facilities charge and be implemented in two parts. The first increase takes effect July 1, and will be an additional $4.32 per month for residential members; $8.05 per month for single-phase commercial members; and $11.20 per month for three-phase commercial members.

The second increase takes effect January 1, 2020, and will be an additional $2.67 per month for residential members; $4.95 per month for single-phase commercial members; and $6.85 per month for three-phase commercial members.

Our other rate classes have been notified directly of the structure of their increase.

It has been five years since the last increase of 3.7 percent. 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 due to legislation and wildfire impacts.

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.

PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs

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 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 95577.

We will switch to our backup transmission feed from NV Energy, 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. 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 both you and your neighbors.

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 (cordless phones need 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 a book.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 to your homes electrical system, please make sure that it is done to code using an automated system like a Generac switch, or a manual double-pull double-throw switch that separates your house from the grid. Failure to do so 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.

June is National Safety Month

Safety is a serious issue, especially when it comes to electrical safety. Because we live and work in the communities we serve, we care about our neighbors. Plumas-Sierra conducts electrical safety demonstrations in schools and for community events.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, each year thousands of people in the United States are critically injured and electrocuted as a result of electrical fires and accidents in their own homes. Many of these are preventable. There is much you can do to keep yourself and your community safe around electricity.

Don’t attempt electrical do-it-yourself projects or overload your outlets. Report downed power lines, unlocked substations or padmount transformers that look amiss.

For more electrical safety information, please visit www.psrec.coop. If you would like us to provide a safety demonstration at your school or community event, please contact us at 800-555-2207.

Telecommunications

PST has submitted applications to the California Public Utilities Commission’s California Advanced Services Fund for grants to fund expansion of broadband in many of the hardest to reach areas of our service territory. We will find out about funding for that in November. We are continuing the expansion of our system in easier to reach areas in real time.

PST’s coax and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 20 Mbps. 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 with streaming services. For more information and to sign up for service, call us at 800-221-3474 or visit www.pst.coop.

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’s Message — May 2019

Dear Members:

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 due to these changes in regulatory requirements and continued tree mortality. As a result, the board is considering a mid-year rate increase..

It has been five years since the last increase of 3.7 percent. The wet winter this year has allowed us to delay the proposed increase to the middle of 2019. However, we will not be able to count on another wet winter, and we must plan for normal years. In addition, even though we have received the benefit of increased hydropower this year, other power costs have increased, offsetting our wet-year savings. Members have indicated to us at past rate meetings they would prefer to see multiple smaller increases rather than one large cost increase.

We will host meetings May 7 and 8 to discuss the proposed rate increase and Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan. The meeting on Tuesday, May 7, is at 6 p.m. at the Milford Community Center. The meeting on Wednesday, May 8, is at 6 p.m. at the PSREC headquarters in Portola. We encourage you to attend one of these member-only meetings if you would like to learn more and provide input on PSREC’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan and the proposed rate increase.

At this time, the proposed rate increase would affect only the facilities charge and would be implemented in two parts. The first increase, if approved, would take effect July 1 and be an additional $4.32 for residential members. The second increase, if approved, would take effect January 1, 2020, and be an additional $2.67 for residential members.

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 proposed rate increase will be to the facilities charge so we can collect more of our fixed costs through the fixed fees.

We will have more information on residential, small commercial and irrigation rates at the meetings. Please join us May 7 or May 8 to learn more and provide your input.

Director Elections

This year, Districts 2 and 5 are up for election. District 2 (Graeagle-Mohawk areas) is served by Dick Short. District 5 (Lake Davis-Long Valley-Washoe County areas) is served by David Hansen. The boundaries of each district are on the PSREC website if you would like to check on which one you live in.

See page 28 of this month’s Ruralite for qualifications and nomination information for the board of directors.

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 the fourth Wednesday. Directors must attend significant training to stay current on issues and become certificated as a director.

Look Up and 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 moving any long objects, make sure you look up for power lines.

Telecommunications

We continue to upgrade our broadband network across the region. If you have not contacted us to be put on the interest list, call us today at 800-221-3474, or visit our website at www.pst.coop. We are upgrading the system in sections and will contact those on our interest lists first to offer services.

With plans offering download speeds of 20Mbps or more, depending on location, multiple-device households finally can stop fighting over bandwidth.

To sign up, give us a call at 800-221-3474 or visit our website at www.pst.coop. 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’s Message — April 2019

Dear Members:

Lineworker Appreciation Day is April 8. National studies consistently rank power line installers and repairers among the most dangerous jobs in the country, and for good reason. Laboring high in the air wearing heavy equipment and working directly with high voltage creates the perfect storm of a dangerous and unforgiving profession. But electric lineworkers are up to the task. These brave men and women are committed to safety, as well as the challenges of the job.

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 fact, this service-oriented mentality is a hallmark characteristic of lineworkers. The job requires lineworkers to set aside their personal priorities to better serve their local community.

To perform their jobs successfully, lineworkers depend on their years of training, experience and each other to get the job done safely.

Equally important is their reliance on a strong support system at home. A lineworker’s family understands and supports their loved one’s commitment to the greater community during severe storms and power outages. This means in times of prolonged outages, the family and their lineworker may have minimal communication and not see each other for several days. Without strong family support and understanding, this challenging job would be all the more difficult.

In PSREC service territory and across the country, electric co-op lineworkers’ mission-focused 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 8 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. If you see their family members in the grocery store or out and about in town, please offer them a thank you as well.

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 major, systemwide outage updates via text message. To sign up for text notifications, text PSREC to 95577.

Another method of member communication is through your smartphone with our SmartHub app, available for Apple and Android devices. You can pay your bill, view your energy-use history and contact us from the convenience of your smartphone, tablet or other devices.

Telecommunications

PST’s coax and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 20Mbps. Our fiber optic services offer speeds up to 1Gbps. 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.

PST has successfully completed an upgrade in part of Graeagle from old coax to fiber optic. The coax in this area was sending feedback and noise into the entire area, reducing speeds for a large portion of Graeagle. With this upgrade, service for the existing coax will be improved. PST is currently working to replace poor-condition coax with fiber optics in portions of West Quincy, and will then be doing the same for Chandler Road, American Way and Hillside. We are expanding as quickly as we can. Letting us know that you want service and what your existing service is will help us plan our expansion.

We are also pleased to announce we have a new wireless access point in Doyle and another serving the Herlong Flats area. We expect new access points in the Cowboy Joe Road and Ward Lake areas later this spring.

For more information and to sign up for service, call us at 800-221-3474 or visit www.pst.coop.

PST has submitted applications for grant funding from the California Public Utilities Commission Advanced Services Fund for parts of the Highway 70 corridor between Quincy and Graeagle, including part of Greenhorn Ranch. We are also applying for service to Johnsville, Lake Davis, parts of southern Sierra Valley, Elysian Valley and Gold Run, parts of C-Road, Mohawk Vista, and Maybe. The grants are limited to areas where the CPUC—not the homeowner— has decided that there isn’t adequate service. People outside of the grant areas will also benefit by the fiber optic being brought closer to more neighborhoods, which will improve wireless service as well as coax service. We will find out in October if we are awarded funding to proceed with these projects.

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