PSE’s Shell Games with “Energize Eastside”

PSE continues to try to fool the public by playing shell games to get its “Energize Eastside” (EE) project approved, no matter what the cost to the public ($200 million, massive environmental damage) or how wildly unpopular EE is:
1. Confusing Normal Growth with Peaks. PSE is good at mixing apples with oranges on these topics. They start with “demand” as in “supply and demand” as used by economists, saying the Eastside is growing in population and economically as if that means there is a direct 1-to-1 correlation between general growth and the need to build EE. Then the shell game: they switch to “demand” as used in the power industry to refer to reliability in extreme peaks in moments of high usage. EE is designed with the intent to meet those 1-in-5 or 1-in-10 year extreme peak moments, but PSE deviously conflates the two different concepts of “demand.” There is, yes, a tenuous connection between overall general Eastside demand for electricity on a daily basis and the likelihood of more peak moments in the future as a result, but the remedy for the latter instance must take into account the vast resources of the entire Western Connection that can be used to counteract such events. Every utility throughout the Western US, B.C., Alberta and Northern Mexico that comprise the Western Connection is required to maintain a set amount of reserve power so that any stressed area can call on that surplus energy in an extreme peak moment. Again, growth v. peaks: apples and oranges. PSE keeps selling a false premise for EE.
2. Generation v. Transmission. With all logical solutions to the supposed reliability problem EE is supposed to address, none of them requires new transmission lines. Maybe all that is needed is an additional transformer at the current Talbot transformer in Renton, as former PSE VP for Power Planning, Rich Lauckhart, contends. The most astounding piece of information PSE has deliberately hidden: WE DON’T NEED ANY MORE 230kV or 115 KV POWER LINES ON THE EASTSIDE, the existing network of 115kV lines (and there are many more than shown on PSE maps) just need to be energized with existing generators in Western Washington in peak load moments.

PSE says we need to have a transformer at Lakeside to transform an added set of 230kV lines from EE to more 115kV power. But the Eastside is already abundantly supplied with more than enough 115kV lines, and all we have to do is turn on the Western Washington gas-fired generators PSE already has and the extreme peak moment problem is solved. As bad as USE’s load flow studies were, they do prove this point.

Yes, according to its own 2013 Integrated Resources Report to the WUTC, PSE will still need to add some 1500MW of new generation in the near future to meet growth as understood in ordinary (supply and) demand concepts, but that is a different issue, and building 18 miles of new transmission lines does not create new power generation. The needed additional 1500MW can be obtained by building new plant or plants near where the load is in Bellevue.

3. The “need” to accommodate 1500MW to Canada — now you see it, now you don’t. One of the huge myths promoted by PSE is that EE has to be built to allow transmission of up to 1500MW of electricity from the US to Canada. They say a 1961 treaty with Canada requires that. But that is simply not true. In 1999 the treaty was amended so that the power Canada would be entitled to is sold in the US energy market instead; Canada has enough of its own electricity. A FOIA request to BPA confirms that Canada has never made a “firm commitment” request for any power to be transmitted to it, treaty or no treaty. Yet PSE has insisted in its load flow studies that reliability for the Eastside requires sufficient resources to handle this fictional 1500MW from south to north. USE, a consultant hired by Bellevue to do its own studies, found that when this bogus 1500MW is not included in their studies, the most that may be at risk is an overload at the Talbot transformer, which can easily be fixed with adding another transformer there (see highlighted segment):

USE flow study scenario with no Canadian 1500MW

Yet in other contexts, especially before city councils, PSE takes an opposite tack: EE is purely a “local project” with perhaps a “3% to 8% benefit” to Canada. They can’t have it both ways.

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