So far, the City of Bellevue has not once told PSE to back off from its rush to get Energize Eastside built on PSE’s timeline, regardless of the many key questions PSE stubbornly refuses to answer. In his presentation to the Bellevue City Council on January 12, 2015, Larry Johnson for CSEE asked the council to impose as many moratoria as needed until PSE provides complete and credible information. In other words, Bellevue needs to set the agenda and timelines, not PSE.
Johnson recited a list of PSE’s past and current misdeeds that demonstrate it is a serial bad actor that cannot be trusted. Below is that list, including the Attorney General’s lawsuit filed last month against PSE for overcharging its customers $35 million a year, and the potential fines and shutdown of PSE’s dirty coal Colstrip plant in Montana that accounts for nearly a third of the energy it sells us. With the possibility PSE could go bankrupt from lawsuits and fines and the possible shutdown of Colstrip, no wonder PSE is trying to pressure Bellevue as EIS Lead Agency for all 5 cities to get its bloated, unnecessary project permitted ASAP.
Here is the shocking litany of PSE’s past and present bad acts:
- 2007: the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) fines PSE $1 million for illegally selling 65,000 customers’ private data to an outside marketing firm;
- 2008: the UTC fines PSE $1.25 million for intentionally falsifying gas pipeline safety inspection records over the course of 4 years, the biggest fine ever imposed on a utility in Washington State;
- 2008: PSE settles with the UTC for $500,000 for failing to resolve 67 gas pipeline safety violations dating back to 2003;
- 2010: PSE fined again $250,000 for violating an order to correct specific customer accounts;
- 2011: PSE fined again another $104,300 for continuing the same violations among low-income customers;
- 2012: PSE fined again $430,000 for improperly charging residential disconnect-visit fees;
- 2013: PSE fined again $275,000 for violating gas-safety rules when responding to gas leaks in Seattle, where due to those violations a family’s house exploded — fortunately, nobody was killed;
- 2014: just last month, December 14, the Attorney General sued PSE, claiming this “private utility’s … profit margins are unjustifiably high. Customers are collectively being overcharged by about $35 million a year.”
- Ongoing: PSE generates nearly a third of the energy it sells to ratepayers via the Colstrip dirty coal plant in Western Montana, making PSE a major air polluter and the 8th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S.
Click here for a print version of Johnson’s presentation where he also chides the Bellevue City Council for not adequately engaging with citizens on this critical project and not giving informed citizen action groups the same time and access granted PSE. Here is also a video of this presentation: