Manager’s Message — October 2020
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.
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.