Monthly Archives: May 2017

Four Big Lies in PSE’s Hard-Sell of Energize Eastside

PSE will do and say anything to get its boondoggle Energize Eastside (“EE”) project past the scrutiny of what appear to be naive and ill-informed consultants charged with the current Environment Impact Studies (“EIS”) for EE. CSEE hopes through pubic comment to expose PSE’s deceitful acts regarding EE in order to counter notions that PSE is somehow owed special deference by and unlimited access to those consultants. Several emails produced by the City of Bellevue to CSEE under public records requests indicate the relationship between PSE, the City of Bellevue and the EIS consultants is far too cozy.
To download CSEE’s submission of its comments on the botched EIS process up until now and the inadequate Phase 2 draft EIS, click here.
To summarize those comments, here are the Four Big Energize Eastside Lies that PSE has gotten away with so far —  but should no more:

1. EE is based on a failed ColumbiaGrid flow study that included exaggerated, false NERC criteria. Yet PSE used those studies despite their failures (the studies could not “solve” to a working solution) by having a pliant consulting firm, Quanta, use them for inputs in load flow studies in order to justify EE. The phony data far exceeded the federal reliability requirements as adopted from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

The core rationale for EE is based on a fairy tale. See the full CSEE submission for details.

2. PSE has misrepresented its desire and efforts to seek a much superior alternative route with Seattle City Light, using SCL’s existing Eastside lines. Though PSE spokespersons told the public early on that the SCL Eastside lines were its “first choice” for EE and they tried to obtain permission from SCL to utilize that route, the truth is otherwise. It turns out PSE never made a formal request for those lines. FERC Order 888 sets out mandatory guidelines on how that process works; if SCL were to refuse to cooperate, FERC would have the right to put SCL out of business by denying it access to any other FERC-regulated lines in the grid.

Despite how easy it was for CSEE to uncover the truth about this common-sense SCL alternative to EE, the writers of the Phase 2 draft EIS appear to have bought hook, line and sinker the PSE’s lies about how hard they supposedly worked to get cooperation from SCL, and how supposedly insurmountable such a task would be. It is not, as former PSE VP for Power Planning, Richard Lauckhart, explains in the full CSEE submission. In fact, he says, the SCL lines alternative could be built much faster, safer and cheaper than the bloated EE that PSE would prefer to see built.

We hope the EIS consultants do a better job and do their own homework on this SCL lines alternative rather than simply rely on whatever PSE tells them.

3. PSE has mounted an aggressive PR campaign, similar in kind and credibility to a political campaign, in order to mislead the public into thinking EE will fulfill a need to meet future Eastside growth that PSE claims is 10 times that of booming Seattle.

That absurd falsehood is readily rebutted by SCL’s Sephir Hamilton, Engineering and Technology Innovation Officer, who in 2014 laid out these facts, starting at 0:52 into the video:

“In the last four years nationwide, per-customer energy use has declined by 2%, both residential and non-residential. Here in Seattle it’s declined 2.7% for non-residential, and it has declined 7.6% per customer for residential energy use. Even with all the growth that you see here in Seattle and south Lake Union, we’re projecting total load growth of less than a half of a percent over the next five years. This is a huge change in the entire makeup of energy use industry in the United States, and especially here in Seattle where we’re leading the way.”

4. PSE repeatedly and falsely advertises the lie that EE is needed as a “long overdue Eastside grid upgrade” despite several expansions of the Eastside grid in the past two decades. We have already discussed this false advertising campaign in depth in a recent post here. The full CSEE submission on the Phase 2 draft EIS includes this discussion in Section 4 of that document.

UPDATE: It is becoming increasingly apparent from several emails produced by the City of Bellevue pursuant to public records requests that PSE has too much influence and control over the entire EIS process. The Bellevue City Council is either negligently ignorant of or complicit in allowing PSE to get away with its lies unchecked. The City of Bellevue can no longer be trusted to act as the Lead Agency for the EIS review and should be replaced by a neutral, competent party. See CSEE’s supplemental comments on the Phase 2 Draft EIS here, submitted on May 23, 2017.

Public comment on the Phase 2 Draft EIS is now being taken from May 8 through June 21, 2017. You can make your comments by email to info@EnergizeEastsideEIS.org. To have your comment made part of the official record, you must include your name and physical mailing address. For more information, go to http://www.energizeeastsideeis.org/participate.html.

 

 

 

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PSE’s Lies to Promote Energize Eastside Exposed by CSEE

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” — Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda during the Third Reich.

Goebbels took an innocuous word, “propaganda,” and turned it into what we understand it to mean today: “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” (https://www.google.com/#q=propaganda+definition). Back in 1622, “propaganda” was the word given to a committee of cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church responsible for foreign missions, founded by Pope Gregory XV. So the meaning of the word has traveled quite a bit.

We have come to expect all kinds of propaganda from politicians. But you would think a private utility that was granted a monopoly by the state to provide electricity in exchange for putting the public interest first would not stoop to cheap propaganda in order to get approval for a lucrative project it wants to build for its investors.

But alas, such is not the case with Puget Sound Energy and its boondoggle Energize Eastside project. It is using focus-group tested PR gimmicks to press an aggressive and misleading ad campaign based on Two Big Lies: 1) that future Eastside “consumer demand” is some 10 times greater on the Eastside than it is in booming Seattle, so matching that demand with enough supply makes the project necessary; and 2) the grid on the Eastside supposedly has not been updated since the 1960s, back when Bellevue and Redmond were pretty much cow towns, and Newcastle mostly trees.

These lies have been challenged by CSEE’s attorney, Larry Johnson, who sent a letter today to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Committee to refute them. You can read it here: letter to utc et al.

To head up PSE’s aggressive PR campaign, PSE has not just relied on its smarmy mouthpiece, ex-TV weatherman Andy Wappler, they went as far as Wisconsin to hire lawyer Mark Williamson to act as its chief consultant for getting the project through the approval processes. Williamson’s website brags about his prowess in getting projects like Energize Eastside approved by treating them the same way as a political campaign:

“Williamson has developed a strategic communications technique patterned on ‘election campaigning’ – polling, message development and communication – tools that he employs, and has for years, to get utility projects approved, sited, built and on-line.” (http://prwcomm.com/now/?page_id=71)

So the PSE/Williamson strategy is clear: it’s all about winning; forget about fairly arguing the merits of the project and considering possible options that would serve the public interest better. It’s all about the hard sell. It’s all about PSE’s Australian and Canadian owners cashing in on their hedge-fund investment in Energize Eastside.

Even though PSE has yet to submit permit applications with the cities through whose residential neighborhoods they want to build Energize Eastside, PSE has already spent $26 million on such things as the dozens of ads it has placed in various media outlets throughout the Eastside, along with relentless mailings of slick brochures and postcards, all repeatedly touting the Two Big Lies.

And who pays for all this?

In the end, you do, in your electricity bill.