Monthly Archives: April 2014

Underground 230kV Lines Can Cost Less than 230kV Overhead Lines Over Time

This 2006 article states that even as long as 8 years ago placing high-voltage transmission lines underground was a cost-effective option.

From the article:

“On one hand, overhead lines are exposed to more things that cause them to fail, turn off or need to be periodically maintained: wind, ice, lightning, contamination, trees and so forth. Underground lines simply miss out on all the excitement to which overhead lines are exposed. On the other hand, when overhead lines need to be worked on, the process is usually straightforward. When underground transmission fails, the repair process usually takes longer and costs more. However, because of the lack of required routine maintenance, some evaluations present a case for underground transmission having a lower lifetime cost than the lower first-cost overhead option.”

And this:

“At the end of the day though, when utilities examine and rank the root causes of distribution system reliability indices (SAIDI, CAIFI and the like), transmission system outages are nowhere near the top 10 causes. This is true for utilities with robust bulk power-delivery networks. So, unless transmission-caused outages are a significant component of customer distribution reliability indices figures, the relevant impacts of the possible unreliability of elements in the transmission system is not a long discussion.”

And this:

“Internationally, [as of 2006] there are also more than 1000 miles (1600 km) of solid dielectric cables in operation at voltages in excess of 230 kV. As shown in the following table, roughly one-third are at voltages greater than 345 kV. None of the over 230-kV cable is in the United States.”

We still are saddled with an 1890s’ mentality regarding overhead transmission lines.

And most important, there is this:

“Today [as of 2006], there are long, involved public hearings where thousands of stakeholders are put on notice about the need for the proposed line and routing. It is not uncommon to have many institutional and private interveners in this process. Their motives cover the entire spectrum of possibilities, from thoughtful and critical with the objective of improving the entire process, to what has been reduced to the acronym NIMBY (not in my backyard). The seemingly unending nature of this licensing and/or permitting process has introduced an enormous uncertainty into the overhead line design-to-construction process.
This uncertainty of getting an overhead line approved is the major modern trend. The cost differential between overhead and underground has also lessened. This is made more complex by congestion charges for network bottlenecks caused by line permitting delays. All this uncertainty and the change in economic environment gives the underground option an appeal that was previously absent.”

Translation: A project with callously overlooked design and safety flaws, sold to the public  with evasions and lies, should be stopped in its tracks by conscientious, determined citizens!

A possible rallying cry for all 18 segments: “PSE: None of the Above!






Petition to Newcastle City Council

If you live in Newcastle, please sign this online petition:

Signing this requires no pen and ink, and once you provide the information identifying you as a Newcastle resident the petition will be updated and sent to the Newcastle City Council.

Any petitions from other neighborhoods to their city councils or other governing bodies will be welcomed and posted here as well.

Message to PSE: Start Over and Do It Right

The best hope to kill PSE’s half-baked project is to unite all affected segments against it and support the view of Renton residents who told their City Council PSE needs to go back to the drawing board. None of the current “options” of putting up to 125′-high 230,000 volt transmission lines and towers through dense residential neighborhoods makes any sense. The EMFs, the buzzing sounds, the visual blight, the loss in property values, the negative environmental impacts, the many safety hazards, the tunnel-vision refusal to employ saner, more modern energy options — none of these factors has been thought through by PSE because PSE hasn’t even come up with any kind of design yet!

PSE says it will make a site selection in 2014 and then figure out in 2015 how to deal with it. Is that any way to run a utility required by law to serve the public interest? Meanwhile, the lack of any design gives PSE the convenient excuse to give evasive answers to questions or outright lies when they are pressed for specifics. PSE’s “public outreach” is a sham, orchestrated to pit neighbor against neighbor in a “divide and conquer” strategy.

We should not be bulldozed by PSE into ruining our residential neighborhoods for the sake of the business expansion plans of such behemoths as Microsoft, Google, Boeing, Nintendo, Amazon, PACCAR and others. As a condition for such future development, any major new construction on the Eastside, including high-rises, apartment buildings and malls, should be required to provide gas-generated distributed cogeneration for their own power and heat within a separate grid of their own, independent of the already very insecure national electrical grid.

Our future should foster fewer, not more, ugly overhead electrical transmission lines. Of course, that approach would significantly reduce PSE’s core business and profits for its Australian shareholders, which is what this project is really all about. Time to pursue an eminent domain against PSE and replace it with a Public Utility District responsive only to the public interest?

Graphic Simulations of Expanded View Pollution with 95′ and 120′ Transmission Towers

Here is some idea of how the new poles expand the view pollution by being higher than the H poles now in use, as shown in this video: This is along a stretch in M at Olympus in Newcastle. The new poles could be as high as 125′ according to PSE, more than twice the height of current “H” poles: Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 5.04.12 PM And here is what these monster ugly 120′ poles would look like through Olympus: According to a retired engineer living in Olympus, the 120′ height is the minimum necessary to counteract the increased health hazards from Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) due to doubling the current voltage from 115kV to 230kV.

Do you think PSE has the same or better capabilities to create graphics like these so we can better judge the full impact of its proposed project? We doubt we will be seeing anything of the sort any time soon.

2010 Eastside Gas Pipeline Explosion from Overhead Power Lines!

Here is a story from August 2010 that may be news to you — certainly something you will never hear on the Andy Wappler Dog & Pony Show:  “From a public safety standpoint, trees that grow near high voltage transmission lines can become electrified even without touching the line, creating a hazard to anyone in the area. Earlier this year, a tree that contacted the eastside transmission line carried electricity down its trunk to a fence and then to an underground natural gas line, which caused an explosion in the line and the home it served. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.” Whole story is at

From the same article: is this what we have to look forward to?powerlines


Olympic Pipeline Company Opposes Transmission Lines Over Its Pipelines For Several Reasons, Including Safety

In a letter to Newcastle CAG representative Dave Edmonds, Olympic Pipeline Company’s Project Manager, Kim West, states the PSE “route selection will be our prime concern for a variety of reasons including safety, impact to landowners, future maintenance, and customer impacts to name just a few. Therefore we feel that segments B, F, H, and L best address the concerns mentioned above.”  See the whole letter here.

It should be obvious that during construction and thereafter, doubling the power of the transmission lines to 230,000 volts right above the same gas, jet fuel and diesel oil pipelines that exploded in Bellingham in 1999, killing 3 youths, is an insanely unacceptable risk to human life and limb. Yet PSE has irresponsibly narrowed the public choice to either the L or M segments as the terminus of the 18 mile project because those are the paths of least resistance and optimum convenience to PSE due to several existing (and overburdened) easements it already owns. PSE admits these poor choices present “many challenges,” but public safety and sound engineering practices take a back seat to PSE’s bulldozing this project to an artificial deadline regardless of whatever the public says or thinks.



Studies of Health Hazards from EMFs in Power Lines Hardly “Inconclusive”

PSE somehow missed this news from 12 years ago concerning another compelling reason not to have 230kV power lines above ground, running through dense residential neighborhoods:
“The California EMF Project Findings

“In 2002, the California Department of Health Services concluded its eight-year study on EMFs.  They found that:

  • EMFs likely cause childhood and adult leukemia, adult brain cancer, spontaneous abortions and ALS.
  • EMFs possibly cause childhood brain cancer, female and male breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, suicide, and heart problems.
  • EMFs are unlikely to universally impact all types of cancer or reproductive failures other than spontaneous abortions.
  • There is insufficient information to determine if magnetic fields cause clinical depression.
  • EMFs at low intensities have profound effects on selective animal organisms.
  • The report finds that, with respect to the diseases possibly or likely caused by EMF “even a slight additional lifetime risk could be of concern to regulators, who already regulate other environmental concerns that convey even lower risks.”
    There is this, too, from the same article:
    Excerpt From CNN Lou Dobbs Moneyline.  Aired on August 15, 2002.

    Transcript of CNN coverage on The California Health Department’s report on EMF risks.  The study took eight years and the authors “are inclined to believe that power line radiation increases the risk for childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease and miscarriages.”

    The report lists health risk odds as well.  They found a 54% to 95% greater chance of childhood leukemia; 51% to 80% greater risk of adult brain cancer; 51% to 59% greater chance of miscarriage; and 52% to 55% greater risk of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    Moneyline conducted a poll that night on whether or not their viewers think there are health risks associated with living near power lines.  71% said yes and 29% said no.

    “Policy Options in the Face of Possible Risk from Power Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields” by the California EMF Program (division of the California Department of Health Services).  Presented in June 2002.

    The article does say in its first paragraph what we often hear from PSE about scientific research regarding EMFs: that it is “inconclusive.” That doesn’t seem to be the take of a major State’s Health Department with only the public’s interest at heart, given the specific risks and their statistical probability reported above.
    Should we be PSE’s guinea pigs until the research some day becomes “conclusive” and those doctors at The California Health Department somehow had it all wrong?

More studies where a causal link to EMFs was found:

‘In 2001, Ahlbom et al. conducted a review into EMFs and Health, and found that there was a doubling in childhood leukemia for magnetic fields of over 0.4 µT, but said that it “… may be partly due to bias. This is difficult to interpret in the absence of a known mechanism or reproducible experimental support.”[39]

“In 2002 a study by Michelozzi et al. found a relationship between leukemia and proximity to the Vatican Radio station transmitters although “the study has limitations because of the small number of cases and the lack of exposure data.”[40]

“In 2005 Draper et al. found a 70% increase in childhood leukemia for those living within 200 metres (656 ft) of an overhead transmission line, and a 23% increase for those living between 200 and 600 metres (656 and 1,969 ft). The authors concluded that “the relation may be due to chance or confounding.” The authors considered it unlikely that the increase from 200 m to 600 m is related to magnetic fields as they are well below 0.4 µT at this distance.[41] Bristol University (UK) has published work on a theory that could account for this increase, and would also provide a potential mechanism, being that the electric fields around power lines attract aerosol pollutants.