The 90′-125′ poles PSE plans to install (replacing in many areas existing 60′ poles) will violate HUD guidelines regarding safety and depreciation of property values; from http://archives.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/ref/sfh1-18f.cfm:
“HUD HOC Reference Guide – Hazards & Nuisances: Overhead High Voltage Transmission Towers and Lines
Chapter 1, Appraisal & Property Requirements, Page 1-18f:
“The appraiser must indicate whether the dwelling or related property improvements is located within the easement serving a high-voltage transmission line, radio/TV transmission tower, cell phone tower, microwave relay dish or tower, or satellite dish (radio, TV cable, etc).
“1. If the dwelling or related property improvement is located within such an easement, the DE Underwriter must obtain a letter from the owner or operator of the tower indicating that the dwelling and its related property improvements are not located within the tower’s (engineered) fall distance in order to waive this requirement.
“2. If the dwelling and related property improvements are located outside the easement, the property is considered eligible and no further action is necessary. The appraiser, however, is instructed to note and comment on the effect on marketability resulting from the proximity to such site hazards and nuisances.”
Perhaps not that many dwellings along the PSE-proposed routes will be financed via HUD funds, but here is an obvious standard to look to when cities decide whether a safe “fall distance” exists with homes in many places just a few feet from the proposed new poles that could fall and crush those houses during construction, in a gas pipeline explosion or in an earthquake. Many homes lie above one of the worst earthquake fault lines on the West Coast. Yet PSE admitted on 4/21 at the Renton Technical College that it will not design the poles to counter earthquake-scale hazards!
PSE keeps citing high costs as a reason not to underground the 230kV lines (“$25 million per mile,” a number that is several times the estimated cost cited in numerous authoritative web pages with no profit motive to skew facts — this topic will be the subject of a future post). Meanwhile, what are the true costs of NOT under-grounding the lines? Is it serving the public interest to put peoples’ lives and homes at such great risks of severe damage or death when placing lines underground and/or in areas of no or less residential density would remove those risks?
Would it be OK to go back to making cars without seat belts and airbags because that would be cheaper?
The image of PSE destroying our beautiful neighborhoods and turning them into INDUSTRIAL BLIGHT conjures up visions of a GODZILLA run amok, crushing everything in its path: