Monthly Archives: May 2014

California Does It Right: High Voltage Poles Dismantled and 500kV Lines Put Underground

While PSE remains stuck in its 19th-Century tunnel vision of “all-wires-overhead-all-the-time” mentality, enlightened California demonstrates what can be done to reverse industrial blight to preserve neighborhoods’ quality of life: Southern California Edison is in the process of dismantling massive power line towers in Chino Hills, California.

“The utility had intended to string 500-kilovolt power lines through the towers, above residential homes, until the state Public Utilities Commission voted 3-2 in July to re-route 3.5 miles of the project underground. The decision reversed a 2009 PUC vote to permit the above-ground lines through 5 miles of Chino Hills.”

Hello, WUTC? This is what a utility commission can do that regulates in the public interest. You might take note and follow suit. Unsafe and unsightly overhead power lines are anachronisms that belong in nobody’s back yard!

Here is the link to the whole Chino Hills story:

Hat tip to Lisa Taylor for sending us the link!


Woodridge Resident Questions Validity of PSE Project, Other PSE Assumptions

We received a very thoughtful white paper from long-time Woodridge resident Russell Borgmann that explores the following questions and provides some interesting answers:

  1. Is the Energize Eastside project necessary?
  2. Is it legal?
  3. Is it safe?
  4. How much will it cost?
  5. Why no alternate routes?

On the first question whether the project is needed, Russ notes:

“PSE says Energize Eastside is required to meet the growing energy needs of the Puget Sound Eastside over the next 30 years.  However, in a private study commissioned by Bellevue (Exponent Report on City of Bellevue Electrical Reliability Study Phase 2 Report) says:  “PSE has not experienced any load growth since 2008.  The planned growth has therefore been shifted forward by a couple of years.  The present planning criteria is for 0.5% annual growth for the immediate future and a growth rate of about 1% per year for the next 10 years…the likely result is a surplus of available electric energy”.  PSE says growth is straining existing infrastructure.  The City of Bellevue’s independent report contradicts PSE’s claims.”

NOTE: To build its proposed project along either of PSE’s two ill-considered, pre-selected routes, PSE does not have all the easements it will need on either route, and it will fail in trying to exercise eminent domain to get them if it cannot meet the legal criteria that (1) the use is really public; (2) the public interest requires it; and (3) the property appropriated is necessary for that purpose.

And as to placing the power lines underground, Russ again cites the independent study undertaken for the City of Bellevue:

“Overhead (OH) and Underground (UG) systems were compared in the independent study of Bellevue’s electrical supply. Number of outages are consistently LOWER with Bellevue’s Underground systems (see Figure 3, page 17). Furthermore, equipment failures produce the greatest number of outage events, followed by tree-related and wildlife-related events (pg 18). Since 2008, there has been a continuous decrease in equipment failures associated with Underground Installations.

“PSE has not presented data, however the independent Exponent report demonstrates that underground installations have increased reliability and lower ongoing maintenance costs, which in the long-term should more than offset higher installation costs. “

You will never learn any of this, of course, from Andy Wappler’s many PSE Dog & Pony Shows. There is other worthwhile information here you may not be aware of. Please read the whole thing!

Norwood Village Board of Trustees Adds Its “NO!” to Insane PSE Project

The Norwood Village Board of Trustees ( has entered the fray against PSE’s proposed insane “Energize Eastside” project with this page on its web site: Please respond to their excellent “Call to Action” by writing and calling your elected representatives at all levels of government whose names, phone numbers and web sites are listed there. Get involved!

A lot of us want to send this guy to our elected representatives and PSE’s owners in Australia to deliver his message on our behalf:

Newcastle’s Olympus Homeowners Association Opposes PSE Project

The Olympus Homeowners Association’s board voted recently to oppose PSE’s proposed “Energize Eastside” project with a statement including the following language:

“We believe this project should be put on hold until all the facts from credible sources can be understood and that all reasonable alternatives to the proposed corridors have been thoroughly considered. From what we can gather to date, better solutions may exist or have not thoroughly been examined. These alternatives include a combination of undergrounding lines, partnering with other local utility companies, local power generation, and electricity storage for peak demand, and conservation incentives which may alter the supply and demand forecast as presented by PSE. PSE has had three years to plan the project, but the community thus far has had 3 months to respond and will have to live for decades by whatever decisions are made.” (Full text available here)

Also included in the statement, this mockup of how just one of many views will be impacted:

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 9.30.09 PM



Why Not Put The Lines Underwater?

As noted here previously, PSE ‘s “all-wires-overhead-all-the-time” tunnel vision excluded from its consideration all undergrounding options when it pre-selected the only two routes currently put before the public. PSE also chose to ignore another 21st century solution: Putting the lines underwater in a submarine cable.

San Francisco, for example, will start placing a 13.5 km-long cable with 230kV lines through the San Francisco Bay that will be completed in July 2015 at a cost of $37 million. That comes to $4.4 million/mile, vastly cheaper than the unsubstantiated $25 million per mile PSE has been touting for undergrounding lines in its Energize Eastside project.

Underwater cables containing high-voltage power lines are not new to King County. We already have an underwater line from Renton to Mercer Island, and another one from Des Moines to Vashon Island to Kitsap County that provides the Vashon Island with all its electricity.

Nor are the above-mentioned submarine solutions unique phenomena. Here’s a link to an impressive list of several existing submarine cables around the world and many proposed ones as well: The San Francisco submarine cable has yet to be added to the list.