Manager’s Message — September 2021
The cooperative’s 2021 annual meeting is Thursday, September 9, at 6:30 p.m. via webinar. It can be accessed from our website. There will be a link at the top of the page. If you want to navigate directly to the meeting, you can join the meeting here. You can listen in by calling (234) 203-2766 and entering access code 169-240-982.
We hope you will join us for an informative evening with updates, election results, and a question-and-answer session. We encourage you to submit questions in advance by emailing our Marketing department. We will also take questions via the chat option during the meeting.
We have been impacted by 2 large wildfires this season, and our area is under a state of emergency. I am so impressed by the hard work of our crews. The Beckwourth Complex Fire burned through our system, knocking out power in Lassen County for several hours and burning down 9 miles of our fiberoptic system, taking down internet service for about a week until our crews were able to replace the damaged cable. Our electric and telecommunications crews worked night and day to restore service and rebuild infrastructure to the hard-hit town of Doyle and to then re-hang all the fiber-optic cables.
Our vegetation management efforts have paid off in minimizing damage to the electric transmission lines. We will continue this program and expand it in the years to come. We will also aggressively continue our tree trimming and hazard tree removal programs.
The Dixie Fire did not seriously impact the Plumas-Sierra physical system, as of this writing. It is north and west of our electric grid, but has impacted a few fiber-optic customers.
That fire destroyed more than 100 PG&E power poles that are part of our primary power supply. We don’t buy power from PG&E, but they wheel power to us from our suppliers. We have relied on our backup power feed since July 21. That feed consists of a connection to NV Energy that cannot carry our full load. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) also built the High-Sierra Cogeneration Plant by the 2 state prisons east of Susanville to improve our voltage, generate low-carbon power and give us more capacity in case of the loss of the PG&E feed. We also worked with the U. S. Army to build the solar facility at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong.
All these improvements have allowed us to continue providing power with only a few short outages, but we often exceed the combined capacity during summer. To supplement the backup feed and our generation, we rented a 2-megawatt generator and attached it to our Graeagle Substation to keep the lights on for everyone. There is a very short outage each night to switch this generator off for refueling, but it is greatly reducing the need for longer rolling blackouts. We are renting another generator that will further reduce the load on our backup feed, further reducing the need for rolling blackouts.
Unfortunately, PG&E has informed us that, as of this writing, we will have an estimated additional six weeks before one of the main feeds is restored and we can go back to normal service for all of us. Please check our website for more information on this schedule.
Our members in Valley Ranch, Whitehawk, Gold Mountain, Clio, and other parts of upper Mohawk Valley are experiencing a 10-second outage almost each night.
This occurs when we switch back to our main grid from the generator.
We know this is an inconvenience, but this generator protects these members from rolling blackouts. We can’t rotate the circuits connected to the generator at the substation because the other Graeagle-area circuits have smaller loads, which would negate the value of the generator.
We have added a second generator at the Milford Substation, and the same 10-second outage will occur for members on that circuit.
PSREC serves 3 prisons and the Sierra Army Depot. I can’t thank all 4 entities enough for their efforts to keep the lights on for the rest of the members.
When we call for energy conservation it makes a real difference. Please sign up for our texting service, and when we ask you, please cut back. This applies to small commercial and irrigation members, as well as residential members. We know that the irrigators feed their families from what they grow and cutting back can be a big inconvenience, but any marginal pumps or load that can come off during our peak times helps keep everyone’s lights, water, pumps, and appliances on as much as possible.
For the latest updates, please check our website and social feeds, and sign up for text and email notifications by logging into SmartHub and selecting the notifications you would like to receive. If you need assistance, please contact us at (530) 832-4261.
We are working with our neighbors and investigating every option for improving our current situation. PSREC is already moving forward to construct a more robust and higher capacity connection to the 345-kilovolt line across the Nevada border. This new line will essentially eliminate problems from the PG&E delivery system and provide a backup link capable of serving our entire load in the future.
Two other entities have been especially helpful. NV Energy has been great in providing our backup, and the Northern California Power Agency has been extremely helpful in making alternative arrangements and helping us get more backup power.
I’d like to give special recognition to the cooperative’s system control and data acquisition group. Jason Harston, our manager of engineering and operations, and Matt Brubaker, Katie Willis, and Tim Retallack, our SCADA operators, have staffed the operations center 24 hours a day, adjusting the system to keep it functioning and adapting in real-time to problems on our backup system. Thank you all for your tremendous efforts to keep everyone’s lights on.
Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications (PST) offers broadband services to Quincy and American Valley; parts of Cromberg/Sloat; Portola/Delleker; Mohawk Valley; Plumas Eureka; Johnsville; portions of C Road/Mohawk Vista; the Susan River Valley area, including Ward Lake and Gold Run; the southern part of Honey Lake Valley, including Doyle, Herlong, and the Sunnyside Road area; Red Rock; and Sierra Valley, including Calpine, Sattley, Sierraville and Sierra Brooks.
PST continues to improve and expand its broadband networks, prioritizing our member-owners. PST is working with PSREC on dual-purpose or hybrid projects where the electric cooperative gets expanded control of the electric grid, and PST rents some of the fiber to bring broadband to more members. We expect these types of projects to continue into the foreseeable future.
PST’s coaxial and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and 20 Mbps, respectively. Our fiber optic services can go as fast as 1 Gbps download, with dedicated business services 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 or satellite TV bill with streaming services. For more information about our products, including coverage maps, please call (530) 832-4261 or visit Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications.