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Electric companies come to agreement

Diana Jorgenson
Portola Reporter
3/31/2010


    Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, Plumas and Sierra counties, the city of Portola and the city of Loyalton withdrew protests filed with the California Public Utilities Commission when a settlement agreement was reached with Sierra Pacific Power Company (dba Nevada Energy, but for the purposes of this article called Sierra Pacific) and California Pacific Electric Co., LLC (CalPeco), buyer of Sierra Pacific’s California holdings.

   PSREC made a concerted effort to acquire the customer base in the cities of Portola and Loyalton since it was already servicing the rural areas surrounding them. The city and county entities had filed concerns about reliability, with local line crews and the availability of Sierra Pacific Industries’ co-generation output at the top of the list.

    The CPUC had decreed reliability issues be satisfied as part of the sale and ordered all parties to reach a settlement. Negotiations were prompt and agreement reached in a relatively short time.
    Although PSREC was not successful in its bid to purchase the electrical service areas, it did receive significant concessions in the form of closer contractual relationships with Sierra Pacific in the future, as well as in an agreement with CalPeco to furnish a local line crew and maintenance for Portola and Loyalton.
    “We’re satisfied,” said Bob Marshall, general manager for PSREC, adding he was most appreciative of all the community support they received in trying to purchase the service areas.
    The agreement outlines the withdrawal of an interconnection request to the Fort Sage substation, which would connect PSREC to a high voltage line in the desert.  Marshall explained, “We’re not giving up on Fort Sage. We agreed to withdraw our version of that request. We’re still working with entities to build that connection.”
    CalPeco agreed to invest $1 million in the Herlong Transmission Project to build transmission lines to Fort Sage, with an immediate contribution of $250,000.
    According to the agreement, this will allow CalPeco, “through use of its ownership interest in the Herlong Transmission Project and access to additional PSREC facilities, to obtain an incremental reliable, prudent, and cost-effective transmission path to deliver power to CalPeco’s customers in the Portola and Loyalton areas.”
    It will also give PSREC access to cheaper sources of power from the east. According to Marshall, Sierra Pacific agreed to continue supporting PSREC’s efforts to access Nevada power sources.
    “This helps us spread our costs,” Marshall said, adding that Sierra Pacific and CalPeco also agreed to finalize pending agreements with the SPI Loyalton plant to purchase power, which helps both CalPeco and PSREC with reliability issues and back-up sources of power during outages.
    CalPeco will also contract with PSREC for line crew services, not only during outages but for maintenance of Sierra Pacific’s lines as well.
    In the interest of increasing electrical reliability, Sierra Pacific agreed to complete and maintain the clearance of the transmission line from Sierra Valley into Portola to reduce outages on that line that are caused by trees.
    The contract also strengthens mutual back-up service between CalPeco and PSREC through the Marble substation, to provide assurance of service to either electrical provider during outages.
    The agreement stipulates that CalPeco and Sierra Pacific will ask the CPUC that costs for the Herlong Transmission Project and providing a local line crew to eastern Plumas and Sierra counties be spread across their entire customer base and not just to Portola and Loyalton customers.
   

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