Another Virtual Annual Member Meeting for Plumas-Sierra

PSREC crews work to restore service after the Dixie Fire. Photo provided by Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative’s (PSREC’s) 84th annual meeting of members was broadcast virtually.

Held Thursday, September 9, this year’s meeting continued the trend of virtual events. Members could log in to watch the meeting, call in. The recording of the meeting can be viewed on the cooperative’s YouTube channel.

Members cast their ballots both by mail and electronically, and were invited to submit questions in advance of the meeting.

If you would like to view the annual meeting recording, search Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative on YouTube.

Corby Erwin, member services manager, got things started by announcing the winners of the PSREC Annual Meeting Photo Contest. She then announced the winners of the PSREC/ PST Citizen Scholar scholarships.

PSREC General Manager Bob Marshall spoke about the cooperative’s history and how PSREC’s electric grid works—including how power is brought to members.

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications Chief Operating Officer Aaron Whitfield gave an update on broadband expansion. He detailed progress in the areas for which PST has received grants from the California Advanced Services Fund. PSREC and PST crews have completed almost all construction in the five grant areas awarded in 2020.

Construction of PST’s fiber-optic network in Loyalton has been delayed due to both the Dixie and Beckwourth Complex fires. Decommissioning of old cable TV infrastructure has begun and new fiber optic cable will be installed immediately following removal of the old coaxial cable.

Aaron spoke of material shortages and long wait times to receive materials after they have been ordered. Manpower availability was disrupted due to repairs needed to damaged infrastructure caused by the fires.

PST experienced 23 miles of completely burned or damaged fiber optic cable during the Beckwourth Complex Fire. Crews quickly replaced the fiber optic cable and restored service to impacted customers.

Next, Jason Harston, engineering and operations manager, discussed the impact of the recent fires to PSREC’s communities and infrastructure. Jason talked about the process that occurs when incident management teams ask PSREC to shut off power during fires. PSREC understands many of its members rely on wells.

Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications crew members Austin Harvey, Joe Cuoto and Jason Rapacillo. Photo provided by Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications

The Beckwourth Complex Fire destroyed approximately 90 distribution poles and 15 transmission poles. While PSREC is still assessing damage due to the Dixie Fire, more than 50 distribution and transmission poles have been reported as damaged or destroyed so far.

The impact from these fires was minimized due to the hard work of our line, operations, and vegetation management crews.

Representatives from PSREC’s power suppliers—Northern California Power Agency, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, and Western Area Power Administration—delivered updates on the power market.

Sandee Peebles, contracts and energy services manager of the Sierra Nevada Region, discussed current hydropower conditions. Randy Howard, NCPA’s general manager, spoke about the effects of ongoing drought in the state on public power utilities, including PSREC, and how fires have impacted geothermal resources. Randy then discussed legislation related to utility bill arrearages and power market price volatility.

Jackie Coombs, UAMPS manager of corporate and member relations, spoke about the membership benefits of UAMPS and provided an update on new UAMPS generation assets.

Following the PST presentation, Board President Fred Nelson called the business meeting to order and gave an update.

He spoke about the loss of PSREC’s main transmission feed from PG&E and noted PSREC continues to be on its backup feed from NV Energy. PSREC added two mobile generators at two substations to add generation while PSREC experiences summer peak demand. Fred discussed plans to construct a new interconnection with NV Energy at Fort Sage to provide PSREC with substantially increased reliability.

Secretary/Treasurer David Hansen pointed members to the Treasurer’s Report published in Ruralite and posted on PSREC’s website.

Next, Bob updated members about how the Dixie Fire has impacted PSREC’s power supply. Bob thanked the prisons on PSREC’s system for using their generators to help PSREC manage load and keep the lights on for members across the cooperative’s territory.

He also spoke of PSREC’s Community Shared Solar Program and encouraged members to participate. If you have questions about the program, please call (530) 832-4621.

He later answered questions from members during a Q&A session.

Alyson Ackerman, PSREC’s legal counsel, directed the business meeting. Members reelected directors Dr. Larry Price, District 1; Fred Nelson, District 3; and Dave Roberti, District 4.

We appreciate everyone’s patience with changes to the annual meeting this year. PSREC knows its members are busy. We thank all of you who participated.

We hope to see you for an in-person meeting next year!