Manager’s Message — June 2020
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.
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.
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.