Manager’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — January 2021

Dear Members:

Happy New Year! 2020 was a trying year for everyone, and we are pleased to begin 2021 with some good news. Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST) was awarded a California Advanced Services Fund grant for more than $3.7 million to continue expanding broadband services to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of our region. This grant will help PST cover parts of the Scott Road area and the Sierra County portion of Long Valley. We will begin permitting the projects during the first quarter of 2021. Actual construction will probably be in late 2021 or in 2022.

Construction of projects funded by grants awarded in 2019 is going well. We did experience delays due to COVID-19, wildfires, inclement weather, and equipment delivery delays. These projects will provide broadband service to areas of C Road, Mohawk Vista, Johnsville, Keddie, Lake Davis, Elysian Valley, and Johnsville. If you have not yet contacted us to get on our interest list for service, please call us at (530) 832-4261 or visit our website.

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) continued its increased vegetation management and removal of hazard trees on the system to improve reliability and fire safety. We appreciate the increased cooperation from 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.

Be Prepared for Outages

Even though your cooperative has invested in system improvements, removed hazard trees, and kept up its ongoing maintenance, outages can and will happen. Being prepared can help make the best of a bad situation. Please visit our website for information on outage preparedness and electrical safety. Pacific Gas and Electric has been repairing its system and requiring us to switch our system, leading to a number of short outages as we move to our backup transmission feed.

We have been working on PG&E to minimize the impact on us, but we are not always successful. We also would like to encourage everyone to put high-quality surge protection on your home electronics. Manufacturers are supposed to build modern electronics to code, which means they can withstand a surge, but this doesn’t always happen. Between risks posed by lightning, trees, and power surges from the grid, investing in high-quality surge protection will pay for itself over time.

PSREC has changed its outage notification system to provide more localized outage information to members. To view the most up-to-date outage information, or to report an outage, please log into the PSREC SmartHub app on your Apple or Android device, or log in at our website. Please report all outages to us, day or night, at (530) 832-4261 or through the app.

Scholarships

PSREC and PST are again offering scholarships to students who receive either electric or internet services from PSREC or PST at their primary residence in Plumas, Sierra, Lassen, and Washoe counties. There is an application on our Plumas-Sierra Offers Scholarships to Local Students article. The deadline is April 26. For more information, go to our website.

COVID-19

During these difficult times, we know many of you are struggling financially. We would like to stress the importance of staying in touch with us about your bills and trying to keep your account balance from growing too much for both electric and telecommunications services.

All of our local restaurants and small businesses are having a difficult time surviving during partial and full shutdowns of indoor dining and stay-at-home orders. If you want your favorite businesses and restaurants to be here when the pandemic is over, please patronize them and order takeout. Tip at least as much as you would if you were dining in.

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

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — December 2020

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 to always look up for overhead lines before installing any tall features or exhibits.

Telecommunications News

The California Public Utilities Commission will vote on California Advanced Services Fund grant resolutions at its December 17, meeting. Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications submitted six applications to the program. If funded, they will bring broadband services to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of our region. We will post information on our website the moment we know about the grants.

Expansion of broadband services funded by the 2019 CASF program is going well. We recently opened areas of Mohawk Vista, C Road, Johnsville, and parts of Gold Run for installations. In addition, we are opening parts of Plumas Eureka Estates for installations. You can check availability for your location at Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications 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.

PST has updated its packages for coax and fiber optic services to remain competitive and offer the best service in the area. Coax now has one standard package of 25 Mbps download by 3 Mbps upload for $75 per month. For residential fiber, our offerings are:

  • 50 Mbps download by 10 Mbps upload for $79 per month
  • 100 Mbps download by 20 Mbps upload for $99 per month
  • 250 Mbps download by 50 Mbps upload for $149 per month
  • 500 Mbps download by 75 Mbps upload for $199 per month
  • 1 Gbps download by 100 Mbps upload for $299 per month

PST has upgraded its wireless broadcast points to improve service for customers in Susanville, Janesville, Herlong, Milford, and Doyle. With these upgrades, customers will see more consistent speeds, especially during peak times. These upgrades will also allow PST to offer higher package speeds in the near future. As these upgrades are performed, customers will see little or no impact to their service, with the exception of a minor five to 10-minute outage as the equipment is swapped out.

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

Eyes and Ears

We spend a tremendous amount of time and money grooming our rights-of-way and maintaining our equipment, but it is a never-ending 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 if 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 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 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 2020.

Members in good standing will receive capital credit refunds on their December bills, which are received in January. If less than $100, the refund will appear as a credit on your bill. If your refund is $100 or more, a check will be mailed in January.

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 by email.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — November 2020

Dear Members:

We received calls and questions about PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs that affected us. Our connection to the west is through 60,000volt sub-transmission lines that run through the Feather River Canyon via the Caribou powerhouses run by PG&E. We do not buy power from PG&E, but our normal supply is wheeled to us through their system.

If the lines from Caribou to Quincy go down, we can serve 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.

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.

We did experience several outages due to PG&E work in the canyon and Public Safety Power Shutoffs. On September 7, a PSPS caused a brief outage while we switched to our backup feed from NV Energy. On September 15, we experienced an outage of about 20 minutes due to PG&E problems in the canyon. On September 24, the north portion of our system experienced a short outage due to PG&E work in the canyon. On September 27, we experienced about two hours of outages due to a PG&E PSPS and their generators at the Caribou powerhouse going offline.

Plumas-Sierra has been on a 25-year all-out campaign to improve our right-of-way maintenance, removing thousands of overcrowded trees that threatened 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. These efforts also reduced the amount of damage to our infrastructure during the Claremont and Sheep fires in August. It has been a sustained campaign by our operations staff, backed by your board of directors. We have successfully worked to get state law changed so we have the right to access private property when trees on private land threaten our system.

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 psrec.coop. To receive updates on outages 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.

Winter Rate Assistance Program

We are accepting applications for the Winter Rate Assistance Program (WRAP), 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 psrec.coop, or call (530) 832-4261.

Telecommunications

 Construction of PST’s five grant projects is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. Areas include Johnsville, Mohawk Vista, parts of C Road, Lake Davis, Keddie, Johnstonville, and Elysian Valley. We have a huge workload on our plate and are trying to get to everyone as fast as possible. This requires us to organize our work as efficiently as possible and group our installations to cover the communities and as many of our members as possible while still meeting the mandatory deadlines.

We ask for your patience as we build out. We are increasing speeds for all our packages and are excited to share details in next month’s issue of Ruralite.

If you have not already contacted us to be placed on our interest list to be contacted when service is available in your area, please call (800) 221-3474 or visit our website.

PST submitted six additional grant applications to the California Advanced Services Fund to continue expansion of broadband coverage to the hardest-to-reach parts of our service area. We will find out at the end of the year if we have been awarded additional funding.

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

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Power Content Label

Eligible Renewable 1 4.0% 31.7%
Biomass & Biowaste 0.0% 2.4%
Geothermal 3.2% 4.8%
Eligible Hydroelectric 0.7% 2.0%
Solar 0.1% 12.3%
Wind 0.0% 10.2%
Coal  0.0%  3.0%
Large Hydroelectric  57.3% 14.6%
Natural Gas  28.1% 34.2%
Nuclear 0.0%  9.0%
Other 0.0% 0.2%
Unspecified sources of power 2  10.6%  7.3%
Total 100% 100%

Percentage of Retail Sales Covered by Retired Unbundled RECs — 0.0%

1 The eligible renewable percentage above does not reflect RPS compliance, which is determined using a different methodology.

2 Unspecified power is electricity that has been purchased through open market transactions and is not traceable to a specific generation source.

3 Renewable energy credits (RECs) are tracking instruments issued for renewable generation. Unbundled renewable energy credits (RECs) represent renewable generation that was not delivered to serve retail sales. Unbundled RECs are not reflected in the power mix or GHG emissions intensities above.

PSREC 2019 Power Mix

3.2% — Geothermal
0.7% — Eligible Hydroelectric
0.1% — Solar
57.3% — Large Hydroelectric
28.1% — Natural Gas
10.6% — Unspecified

2019 CA Power Mix

2.4% —Biomass & biowaste
4.8% — Geothermal
2% — Eligible hydroelectric
12.3% — Solar
10.2% — Wind
3% — Coal
14.6% — Large Hydroelectric
34.2% — Natural Gas
9% — Nuclear

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative supports renewable energy and has built a 2.5-megawatt solar system at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong to support the net zero goals of the U.S. Army and provide a community solar program to 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. For more information on the program, visit our website or call (800) 555-2207.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — October 2020

Dear Members:

Thank you to everyone who joined us online for the 2020 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 on 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 the Plumas-Sierra Telecommunication website.

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

Sonja Anderson of the Western Area Power Administration and Randy Howard of the Northern Calfornia Power Agency 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 lively question-and-answer session covering broadband expansion and the cooperative’s energy-efficiency and renewable energy programs. Shares in the PSREC Community Solar Program are still available with payment plan options. For more information, please visit our website, or call us at (800) 555-2207.

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 Tom Hammond to District 6 and Nancy Miller to District 7. Amendments to the bylaws to allow electronic voting also passed.

Outages/Fires/PSPS

This has been a rather intense month. The Loyalton Fire destroyed several of our members’ homes and outbuildings and caused damage to our transmission line, fiber-optic line, and distribution line. The transmission line damage and fiber-optic damage was minimized due to the hard work of our operations crews. We lost some distribution poles and some local fiber, but around-the-clock work by the crews restored service quickly.

Then came the Claremont and Sheep Fires. The Claremont Fire blew through our transmission line in the Massack area. Our crews and contractors again cleared around poles and put out fires on numerous poles. In the two fires, we extinguished approximately 60 poles, which could have torn down an additional 120 poles. While the fire was still smoking in the area, our crews went into the Claremont damage and replaced four key transmission poles that were badly damaged.

We were asked by the incident commander of the Sheep Fire to disconnect power to areas of Janesville so they could safely fight the fire. Crews protected our infrastructure for several days, then replaced seven distribution poles damaged by fire. Photos of the fire damage are on the Annual Member Meeting article, and are available as part of the annual meeting presentation near the beginning of the video.

Plumas-Sierra would like to thank to following for quickly helping us restore our transmission line and prevent further damages to our system. Our line crews, Danelle Bradfield, Silas Rojas with Lassen Office of Emergency Services, Folchi Logging and Construction, Donald Fregulia with the U.S. Forest Service, Jody Sherman, Sean Lemnah, Jim West, Toppers Tree Service, High Sierra Fire, and all of the firefighters and emergency response crews.

If that wasn’t enough, PG&E announced a 48-hour outage for our region due to powerful winds coming from the north and east. These are the same winds that pushed the Bear Fire to Lake Oroville.

We switched to our backup power supply, our own generation, and asked the three prisons on our system to run their generators. We couldn’t have been able to keep the lights on without the cooperation of everyone who conserved power. Thank you to all who did. Kudos to Jason Harston and his staff for keeping the lights on!

There will be a few short outages in the months ahead as we switch around problem areas so we can replace poles in a safe manner.

The investments we’ve made in our power transmission and fiber-optic system have paid off. We continue to work on the feasibility of 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 announcing the Public Safety Power Shutoff program will go on for a decade, a more robust connection to the east is becoming a necessity.

I could not be more proud of the employees of PSREC and PST across the last month. This is a great example of the benefits of owning your utility and the cooperative business model.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can contact me by email or call me at (800) 555-2207 extension 6076.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — September 2020

Dear Members:

The cooperative’s 2020 annual meeting is Thursday, September 3, at 6 p.m. via YouTube Live. You can also find our YouTube channel by clicking on the link on our website or searching Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative on YouTube.

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 via email. We will also take questions via the chat option during the YouTube broadcast.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs

As we go into the fall, we expect Pacific Gas and Electric to once again shut down significant portions of their rural system to prevent fires. When this occurs, we will ask our members to reduce their energy use so we can keep the lights on for all our members.

It’s possible there will be power shutoffs in extreme weather conditions on our own system, but we hope to minimize the time off.

We will provide as much notice as possible to members, and will post information at our website, on social media (Facebook and Twitter), and via text message. To sign up for text messages, log in to SmartHub, and set your notification preferences.

Telecommunications Expansion

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications is focused on the construction of the grant area projects, including Mohawk Vista, C Road, Keddie, Purdy Lane, Chandler Road, Lake Davis, Johnstonville, and Johnsville.

At the same time, PSREC and PST are working together to expand electric system control and broadband into other areas, such as Plumas Eureka and Grizzly Road. We will discuss our plans for other areas during the annual meeting.

We have applied for additional grant funding from the California Advanced Services Fund for more of the hardest-to-reach areas and will know at the end of the year if we are awarded grant funds to continue broadband expansion.

For more information about our products, including coverage maps, please call (800) 221-3474 or visit the Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications website.

WRAP

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 our website 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.

Please see our 2021 Youth Tour Essay Contest article for more information about the Washington Youth Tour. For more information on all of our youth opportunities, visit our website.

If you have any questions, please email or call me at (800) 555-2207 extension 6076.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager and President’s Message — August 2020

Dear Members:

2019 was an exciting time of year for Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications. We were awarded five California Advanced Services Fund grants to extend broadband services to the hardest-to-reach areas of our region.

We began construction of the projects during the first quarter of 2020, and have continued implementing plans to provide services to most of the cooperative’s territory that does not have reliable, unlimited broadband, as well as improving existing services.

In the past year, we also worked with our parent company, Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, to build joint projects that improved PSREC’s supervisory control and data acquisition system while allowing PST to offer services through PSREC’s fiber. Joint projects were done in Sierraville, Sattley, and Calpine; Grizzly Road; Plumas-Eureka Estates; and the Chandler Road region.

People outside of the grant areas will benefit from the fiber optic being brought closer to more neighborhoods, which will improve wireless service as well as coaxial service.

We get questions on why we didn’t get a grant for a specific region. It’s because of how the grants are funded. State programs are specific about which areas are covered. Areas that were not eligible for a grant when we applied in 2019 have become available this year, so we’ve applied for additional grants.

PST offers broadband services to Quincy; Portola/Delleker; all of the Mohawk Valley; portions of C Road; the Susan River Valley area, including Ward Lake; 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 replaced the coaxial system in portions of west Quincy with fiber optics to provide broadband services with download speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second and unlimited data use. We also installed fiber optics on most of Chandler Road, American Way, and Hillside in parallel with parts of west Quincy.

PST will continue to improve its broadband networks. As with our electric system, we will steadily improve all our systems and expand our coverage. We are not here to extract money from the community and ship it out to other regions. We care about our communities and want them to thrive.

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 are working hard to improve speeds for all our services next year.

COVID-19

At PST, we are taking a number of steps to limit the opportunity for exposure to illness for our customers and employees. This means we had to limit where we install service. We can safely install internet services in an attached garage under certain circumstances, and are working on installing on the exterior of houses. If PST is not able to install service, we are placing customers on a list to schedule installation at a later date.

More information on current internet service installation requirements is available at our website.

We are working on outside enclosures for homes that allow customers to install interior wiring on their own. COVID-19 interrupted the supply chain of some of the necessary equipment for this, but we expect to be able to increase the number of outside enclosures on homes as the year progresses.

PST has installed a new internet hot spot with improved outdoor range at Calpine Community Center to allow people to work or participate in online education activities from their cars during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working on additional free outdoor hotspots to make sure as many people as possible can access the internet affordably.

PST hotspots are free to the public. Locations of all our hotspots throughout the region are at our telecommunications website.

For more information about our telecommunications products, including coverage maps, visit our telecommunications website or call (800) 221-3474.

Sincerely,

Nancy Miller
PST Board President

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message — July 2020

Dear Members:

Due to the unprecedented impacts of COVID- 19 and Plumas-Sierra’s goals of protecting members and staff, this year’s annual meeting is being reviewed for both location and for exact structure. It may have a limited physical presence or it may be completely virtual. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 3. The August issue of Ruralite will have all the details of the meeting, so please be sure to look for that information.

Up for election are District 6 (North Doyle, Milford, and Herlong areas) served by Tom Hammond, and District 7 (Edgemont and Levitt areas) served by Nancy Miller.

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 20.

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.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs

We know that some of you were frustrated with the repeated outages that tended to occur at 10 p.m. and last a few minutes. We were also frustrated but, as we shared last month, Pacific Gas and Electric needed the changes in our system that would allow them to install new switches that will reduce the number of outages, speed up restoration of power to their customers, and reduce the number of customers off during an outage. This is key for our region’s economic health, even if the improvements are not necessarily on our own power grid.

PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs could 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 on our website, on social media, and via text message. To sign up for text message notifications, log in to SmartHub from our website or the SmartHub app, and set your notification preferences. If you need assistance signing up for notifications, please call us at (800) 555-2207.

For more information on Public Safety Power Shutoffs and how to be prepared, please visit our Public Safety Power Shutoffs page.

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 LifeLine 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.

The Cooperative is actively studying ways to upgrade our transmission system even further so that we can avoid PSPS issues, but solutions are not cheap and will take time.

You can count on your cooperative to always be working toward reliable, clean, safe and affordable power.

Telecommunications

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications is working to expand broadband coverage of fiber optic service with speeds of up to 1-gigabyte per second through the California Advanced Services Fund grants in several areas. For our members on C-Road and Mohawk Vista, please make sure you are on our waiting list. The grants hit pockets that can seem haphazard, but will drag service past areas like the northern end of Chandler Road near Quincy, and Wingfield Road near Susanville.

In addition, PST and our parent electric cooperative have been working together to expand service in several other areas including Grizzly Road, Plumas Eureka, Sierraville, Sattley, and Calpine. We are also working on expanding wireless service in southern Sierra Valley with an option that will provide speeds of up to 50 Mbps. PST’s service offers unlimited data use so your family can stop fighting over bandwidth.

We know that some of you have been frustrated with our being unable to install inside homes due to COVID-19 concerns. We analyze our options every week, and are working on being able to install on the exterior of houses.

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 so we can contact you as soon as service is available in your area.

Hot Spots

PST has installed a new internet hot spot with improved outdoor range at the Calpine Community Center to allow people to work or participate in online education activities from their cars during the COVID-19 pandemic. PST hotspots are free to the public. Locations of all our hotspots throughout the region are on our website.

If you have any questions, please contact me at (800) 555-2207 ext. 6076, or email me.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message, News, News & Hot Topics

Manager’s Message — June 2020

Dear Members:

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. Part of being prepared includes being ready for public safety power shutoffs. PG&E plans to turn off portions of its grid during extreme fire danger, high wind events, and other critical situations. PG&E has notified us if 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.

The outages that happened at around 10 p.m. on April 28 and 29, and May 5 and 6, were due to PG&E work for fire mitigation upgrades on their system. Unfortunately, they did not give us enough notice to publish information in Ruralite, but we were able to put notices on our website and social media feeds, and send email and text notifications through the SmartHub app.

When PG&E notifies us it intends to shut off our transmission feed, we will provide as much notice as possible to members. PSREC will post information to our website, Facebook and Twitter, our SmartHub app, and via email and text message. To sign up for text message and email notifications, login 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 (800) 555-2207.

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.

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 non-perishable 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 to your home’s electrical system, please make sure it is done 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 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.

COVID-19

At Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications, the health and safety of our members and employees is a priority. We remain committed to meeting the needs of our members, local businesses, and communities. We continue to provide power and internet services to our members. If outages occur, our crews are ready to respond.

To continue to limit person-to-person contact and encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, our lobby will remain closed at least through June 30. While PSREC and PST’s lobby is closed, you can use fee-free options available on our websites, Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, and Plumas Sierra Telecommunications, through the SmartHub app, or by calling our office at (530) 832-4261 to pay your electric or internet bills or manage your account.

If you have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact our billing department at (530) 832-4261 or email as soon as possible to make arrangements for paying your bills. Our website also has a list of assistance resources available.

Telecommunications

PST has submitted applications to the California Public Utilities Commission’s California Advanced Services Fund for grants to fund the expansion of broadband in many of the hardest-to-reach areas of our service territory. We will find out about funding for those grants at the end of the year. 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 Plumas Sierra Telecommunications.

At PST, we are taking a number of steps to limit the opportunity for exposure to illness for our customers and employees. This means we had to limit where we install service. We can safely install internet services in an attached garage under certain circumstances. We are examining ways to be able to install service in homes again; hopefully, with expanded testing, in the future we can safely install services in more homes.

We are placing customers who we cannot install right now on a list to schedule installation at a later date. Installation criteria can be found on our website.

If you have any questions, please contact me at (800) 555-2207 ext. 6076 or email me.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

Manager's Message, News, News & Hot Topics

Manager’s Message — May 2020

Dear Members:

I hope all of you and your family members are safe and getting through these unprecedented times as best as possible, given the circumstances. The pandemic has forced many changes on all of us, and it has had a huge impact on the economic vitality of our region.

Our lobby is still closed to the public and we suspect it will stay closed through the month of June. Having said that, you can still easily reach us by phone or on our website.

We are still keeping the lights on and expanding our fiber-optic broadband internet service. I will mention more about that a bit later, but I wanted to make a few suggestions that will help get our community through these tough times.

Please Give Big Tips for To-Go Orders

Restaurants in our region are hanging on by their fingernails. Everyone I have seen is taking precautions and working hard to make sure your food is safe. In these times, the lack of table service and beverage sales is extremely difficult for them. Generous tips now will help the local restaurants we all love keep their employees and stay open through these tough times.

Now is the Time to Donate Locally

Unemployment is sky high in our region; we all know people who have been laid off or had to close their business. People are struggling with paying the rent, utility bills and buying food.

Many of our second-home owners came up to our region to wait out all this.

That is great, especially if you are keeping the restaurants busy and tipping generously, but please remember many of the full-time residents of our region are in dire straits.

Here are some of the better-known entities offering assistance and taking donations — there are more listed at the end of my column:

The nonprofit sector of our region is also hurting, from arts programs to land trusts to animal rescue. We don’t have space to list them all, but if you are in a position to donate, please consider it.

PST Internet Hot Spots Available

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications is on a rapid expansion path through our region. With our own funds, and grant funds from the California Public Utility Commission, we have been building as fast as we can and are continuing that effort.

For safety reasons, we cannot install service inside living quarters of homes.

As I write this, we are still installing in some garages and commercial buildings, if there is appropriate access and safe conditions.

We hope to get back to normal installations this year, but we just don’t know what the future holds at this point.

We are also increasing the hot spots where people can obtain free PST broadband internet access, as many people are trying to work from home, upload schoolwork, take classes and hang on to some semblance of normalcy.

Visit the Hotspots page on the PST website.

In a few areas, we have placed outdoor wireless access points to increase coverage and encourage proper social distancing by being able to work in your car.

If You Are Struggling

Our staff is working with everyone struggling to pay their bills. Please talk with us to make payment arrangements. We are working hard with our own lenders to get maximum flexibility for our electric members and telecommunications customers.

As always, we are here for you, our member-owners. Please contact us at (530) 832-4261 with any questions.

Sincerely,

Bob Marshall
General Manager

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