Manager’s Message — October 2021
Thank you to everyone who joined us online for the 2021 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 (PSREC) at 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 Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications.
Jason Harston, PSREC’s manager of engineering and operations, gave an informative presentation on the recent wildfires and related outages.
Sandee Peebles of the Western Area Power Administration, Randy Howard of the Northern California Power Agency, and Jackie Coombs of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems 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 good question-and-answer session during the annual meeting. We received questions from the members that we will address across the next two months of the magazine.
The first was why we sited the emergency generators where we did. After careful consideration, the Graeagle Substation and Milford Substation were selected as locations for interconnection of the emergency generators because they were the best match for the load and had room for the generators. We chose the largest circuit out of the Graeagle Substation to connect that emergency generator because that circuit is the largest out of that substation that will not exceed the generator’s capacity. The circuit at the Milford Substation was chosen for similar reasons.
The second question was what we are going to do to get off of PG&E and/or build a stronger backup power supply. Several members suggested more solar power. While we are looking at more solar power based on member demand our primary effort to protect ourselves in the future is our proposed project to construct a more robust connection to the Nevada grid east of the Herlong area. Studies are underway and we are working to make sure the cost is reasonable.
The cooperative offers shares in the PSREC Community Solar Program with payment plan options for members who would like to receive local solar energy without having it sited on their homes. For more information, please visit our website or call us at (530) 832-4621.
There were some specific requests on fiberoptic availability. We will contact people who asked about that directly. We will lay out more of our long-term thinking on specific regions and why we build where we do in the next issue of Ruralite.
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 electric utility industry and the telecommunications business. We thank them all for their hard work and commitment to PSREC.
The membership reelected Larry Price to District 1, Fred Nelson to District 3, and Dave Roberti to District 4.
Fires & Outages
This has been a rather intense summer. The Beckwourth Complex and Dixie fires wreaked havoc on our region. The Dixie Fire destroyed the two main transmission lines owned by PG&E in the Feather River Canyon that feed PSREC and the Quincy region for PG&E, and both fires have damaged and destroyed members’ homes and outbuildings. They also caused damage to our transmission and distribution lines as well as our fiber-optic lines. Damage to PSREC’s infrastructure was minimized due to the hard work of our operations crews. Around-the-clock work by the crews restored services quickly.
The investments we’ve made in our power transmission and fiber-optic system have paid off. We continue to move forward with 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’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program, a more robust connection to the east is a necessity.
I could not be more proud of the employees of PSREC and PST during these events. This is a great example of the benefits of owning your utility and the cooperative business model. Our electric and telecommunications crews have been on top of the fires and have consistently started repairs the instant it was safe. Our system operations group has been on rotations to man the control room 24 hours a day. Joint electric/telecom projects were built almost overnight to give us better system control as the crisis has continued.