Manager’s Message – October 2022
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2022 virtual annual member meeting. If you missed it, a recording of the meeting can be viewed on our YouTube channel. You can find that by searching Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative on YouTube.
Aaron Whitfield, chief operating officer of Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST), highlighted plans for broadband expansion in the region. Aaron updated the membership on the latest round of California Advanced Services Fund grants that PST has received and where those grant projects are located. For more information on our broadband services, visit the Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications website.
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, including power supply and the recent strains on the California electric grid.
Of key concern for all the presenters was the absence of federal hydropower due to the multi-year drought and a very high cost of replacement power, driven in part by very high natural gas prices.
I updated members on the Fort Sage project which would build a transmission line that would intertie PSREC into the Nevada grid and increase reliability for cooperative members substantially. This new transmission line will provide a more robust connection to the Nevada grid, allowing the cooperative to have a more reliable power supply and keep rates as low as possible for members. The Fort Sage project is currently in the engineering and design phase.
As Board President Fred Nelson announced at the annual meeting, directors reviewed member comments regarding the two rate options proposed in August. Based on your input and their own review, Option 1 was selected by the board. As of November 1, the residential facilities charge will move to $49.99 per month. Small business rates will move to $87.99 for single phase service and $119.99 for three phase service. There will be no change to the existing kWh charge.
As much as possible, we try to operate on a cost-of-service basis, meaning each member pays the costs associated with providing service to their property, and each rate class should have roughly the same rate of return. Our cooperative’s fixed costs do not change much with use. Additionally, we are collecting only a portion of our fixed costs through facility charges.
We also presented that the board would evaluate in October and December the possible need for a wholesale power cost adjustment (WPCA) in the beginning of 2023. This is due to significantly higher-than-expected power costs we have experienced in 2022, as we discussed at the August member rate meeting. The adjustment would be on the kWh charge and will be determined near the end of 2022. We will update our members as soon as we have more information about the WPCA. This charge is subject to change based on real-time conditions, reservoir storage levels, the prices for power and natural gas in 2023, as well as the snowpack for the upcoming winter. In the past, we have removed or reduced the WPCA as conditions have changed.
During the meeting, we also had a question-and-answer session where I addressed a variety of members’ questions. The topics of the questions covered fiberoptic service availability, net-metering solar pricing and more.
The board of directors is the governing body for PSREC and PST. 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 Richard Short to District 2 and David Hansen to District 5.
The board and I could not be prouder of the employees of PSREC and PST across the last year.
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.
Affordable Connectivity Program
The Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.
The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.