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.

CENSE Asks Bellevue City Council to Oppose “Energize Eastside,” Seek Alternatives

CENSE (Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sensible Energy) used the Public Comment period of the May 12, 2014 meeting of the Bellevue City Council to express their objections to PSE’s proposed project. Here is Part I of that meeting as televised by the City of Bellevue website:

And here is Part II, where council members engage in a rare discussion following a Public Comment period and share their concerns:

Finally, Part III, where among other insightful council observations, Councilmember Conrad Lee notes, “We need to be proactive…We need to investigate options…We immediately need to request PSE to remove their deadline…We need to start fresh…to do it right…”:

Opposition Grows, CENSE (Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sensible Energy) Formed

Citizens from all 5 cities opposed to PSE’s proposed “Energize Eastside” project have banded together to form CENSE (Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sensible Energy). Their newly launched web site,, describes this diverse group as follows:

“We are not an anonymous group with a hidden agenda. Our members are your friends and neighbors, all volunteers, with no source of funding (we may ask for donations to fund legal efforts soon). Most of us don’t have any prior knowledge about electricity transmission or the grid. Fortunately, we have a technical task force that includes a system planner who worked for PSE for 25 years, and Seattle City Light and Tacoma Power for 5 years each.”

CENSE has organized into various task forces to get their message out and to make sure the 5 cities and other governmental entities charged with permitting PSE’s proposed project have complete and trustworthy facts and enough time to evaluate them. Among the questions they pose at their new website:

1. Is this project, which will cost Eastside residents a quarter of a billion dollars, really necessary?
2. Are 13-story poles running over our homes and through our neighborhoods the only viable solution?
3. Can citizens play a role in making these decisions? Or is our future at the mercy of a privately owned monopoly?

Their website “will attempt to answer these questions using common sense, industry expertise, and information extracted from thousands of pages of PSE’s own documents.”

Welcome and good luck!

Be sure to also check out, created by citizens living along Lake Washington in what PSE has designated as the L segment. These people sued PSE, King County and the Port of Seattle, alleging that several of the easements PSE might use for “Energize Eastside” are invalid for that purpose. Those easements are limited to surface use only (railroads used these for trains), but they do not extend to the air above or the land below (spaces needed for overhead lines and the big concrete foundations to hold them). In addition, these easements are included in the federal “Trails for Rails” program, and by law these trails need to be readily convertible back to rail use if the decision is made to do that. Not too easy to do with giant poles, lines and concrete foundations in the way.

Looks like PSE paid $13.3 million for easements that won’t do them any good. How competent is this outfit? Just one more indication that PSE’s two currently promoted routes are awful options, especially when compared to a number of alternative routes PSE eliminated without public input that make much more sense. They need to go back to the drawing board.

Stay tuned for more on that.


Be sure to also


Message to PSE: Start Over and Do It Right!

How many people still play PSE’s “Citizen Advisory Group” (CAG) shell game and think it isn’t rigged in PSE’s favor? PSE uses  control of its manipulated “public input” as an effective way to limit discussion to its desires, then later it twists that input to say, “Hey, this is the route the communities tell us they want,” as if PSE had held a free and open referendum on all reasonably suitable routes.

That is why Andy Wappler could so smugly and cynically say to the Seattle Times, “If the communities can create consensus about where they want the route to go, that’s the route we’ll use.”

This cartoon calls Andy out on this: