Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative – Portola CA

City:
Portola, CA

Site Type:
Infrastructure and Utilities, Electricity

New Deal Agencies:
Public Works Funding, Rural Electrification Administration (REA)

Quality of Information:
Very Good

Marked:
No

Site Survival:
Extant

Description

Ranchers in northern California were still in the dark when the federal Rural Electrification Administration (REA) came into being in 1936. A provision in the New Deal allowed Investor Owned Utilities to borrow money and extend lines to rural areas. A group of ranchers and farmers in the area interested in receiving power went to Sierra Pacific Power and Pacific Gas and Electric to try and interest them in taking advantage of the new government loans. When they couldn’t get the IOUs to bring power to the valley, they began knocking on neighbors’ doors, in an effort to form their own power cooperative. Blairsden Power and Light Company formed to survey and sign people up for the Cooperative. The co-op didn’t have enough members from the Blairsden-Sierra Valley area to form a viable business, so they appealed to ranchers in Lassen County as well. The Sierra Valley Grange in Vinton helped organize Plumas-Sierra.

PSREC incorporated August 8, 1937 under the laws of the State of California. The incorporators held their first meeting at Sierra Valley Grange on August 12, 1937, and authorized the original loan from REA on August 24, 1937 for $283,000. REA approved the loan to build 229 miles of line and serve 643 members on September 1, 1937.

PSREC entered into a wholesale power contract with Pacific Gas and Electric on October 4, 1937.

Construction on PSREC’s system commenced March 25, 1938 through a contract with Fritz Zeibarth Co. of Long Beach, CA.

On September 4, 1938, two local children were invited to electrify the system. “The day the lines were to be energized, someone came up with the idea to have a kid throw the switch. So my father came and got me, and Mr. Laughlin brought his daughter down to Quincy. We were going to throw the switch together. But the switch was near the top of the pole, so one of the linemen had to start the system up.” – Ted Ramelli

Energized lines first brought power to rural homes and ranches in Blairsden and Sierra Valley. PSREC energized the rest of the system going north toward Susanville two months later on November 22, 1938.

PSREC moved its headquarters from Blairsden to West Sierra Avenue in Portola in December 1938.

PSREC paid the original loan off August 25, 1972.

Source notes

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Co-Op

Site originally submitted by Robert Marshall on November 14, 2016.

Location Info


373 W Sierra Ave
Portola, CA 96122

Location notes: Headquarters for the electric co-op moved from Blairsden to Portola in December 1938, where the unmarked building still exists. The current headquarters is three miles west of Portola. Original office location in Portola is below:

Coordinates: 39.8089731, -120.4735923

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