Category Archives: Insufficient Facts

PSE’s failure to perform due diligence and its bad faith in concealing and/or misrepresenting key facts

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, CENSE.org, 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 www.lakecorridor.org, 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.” http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023532182_powerlinelawsuit2xml.html.

This cartoon calls Andy out on this:

 

Renton Mayor and Councilmembers Ask Pointed Questions to PSE

Update:

PSE responded to the City of Renton’s questions with this letter.

One particular paragraph in their answer to question #3 is rather shocking:

Additionally, it is important to note that the routes being considered by PSE were chosen as overhead routes. Due to the additional engineering and construction challenges with undergrounding, the current route options may not be able to accommodate an underground project and new underground route options would need to be considered.”

So right off the bat no consideration was ever given for undergrounding in PSE’s selection of the 18 segments that would qualify in the potential preferred route — their only thought was putting everything above ground, that’s it. Talk about tunnel vision! So even in their own scenario where the unlikely option of a local community choosing to pay for undergrounding might occur, they would still be able to block that by saying the selected route won’t accommodate that. They never even bothered to explore what they now call “new underground route options” and confess that one, some or all 18 segments “may not be able to accommodate an underground project”! What is the point of all the PSE “public outreach” if they have from the very start foreclosed options that could very well be the most optimal solutions?

After severely and unfairly limiting the project options to just two scarcely vetted routes (one set of segments ending in “M”, the other set ending in “L”), routes that suit PSE’s “wires and poles” tunnel vision and increase profits for its Australian owners but offer the people living here no better, meaningful choices, the entire PSE PR “public outreach” for citizen feedback has been from the start a cynical, rigged farce.

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Gregg Zimmerman, P.E., the Administrator of Renton’s Public Works Department, on 4/14/2014 wrote a letter with several key questions to PSE relaying Renton’s mayor’s and City Councilmembers’ concerns about “Energize Eastside.”  We have asked Mr. Zimmerman to forward PSE’s answers so we can update this post with that information.

Of particular interest is Question No. 2:

“With regard to the option of under grounding all or portions of this transmission line, PSE has made reference to Electric Tariff G Schedule 80, provision 34.b, which states “in order for the Projects undertaken in response to such requests to result in rates for electric service that are fair, just, reasonable and sufficient” the Requesting Entity “shall pay the Company for any and all increase in cost due to such change.” However, PSE’s literature identifies several advantages underground lines provide over overhead lines, including less frequent outages, less susceptibility to wind and ice storms and third party damages such as vehicle collisions, and reduced need to manage vegetation. The purpose of Energize Eastside is to improve capacity and reliability of the power grid. Since underground lines would provide greater reliability than overhead lines, why wouldn’t installation of underground lines provide benefits that could fairly, justly and reasonably be paid for by the general rate payers?”

In other words: “Why doesnt PSE offer an underground option for at least some portions of their proposed project?” The City of Anaheim decided, starting in the 1990s, to remove overhead lines and place them underground throughout the city. They charged an added 4 cents a month on everybody’s electric bills because under-grounding was deemed a citywide benefit; why shouldn’t we apply that same kind of thinking here?

The time is rapidly approaching when PSE’s “tariff” 34(b) needs to be challenged by complaint made to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission — both as to the “tariff” itself and as to PSE’s practice in how it interprets the “tariff” to preclude under-grounding high-voltage power lines. PSE is not serving the public interest as articulated in RCW 35.96.010, “Declaration of public interest and purpose”.

An Appeal to Common Sense and Fairness: “Would Amazon Treat Its Customers This Way?”

From an email of a concerned Eastside citizen to PSE that awaits an honest answer:

“Don’t you believe in your heart that high-voltage power lines are dangerous? Would everyone who works at PSE allow their children to play under a power line all hours of every day?  Would everyone at PSE agree to live under high-voltage power lines; especially those who are pregnant?  Would everyone who works at PSE choose to walk, hike, play, live under lines without a care in the world about the effects?  That is what you expect from us!

“Shouldn’t we start reversing this?  Why are we littering our environment with unnecessary and debilitating power lines when there are other viable long-term solutions?  PSE could be innovators and set the bar for the rest of the area!

“The process we are going through seems backward.  If you worked at Amazon, you would see a great practice of understanding the customer need and working backward into the solution.  They perform research and due diligence prior to proposing a solution.  I think it is a best practice!  That said, I am deeply concerned about the number of people and amount of effort to make decisions with the lack of data provided.  The due diligence [by PSE — ed.] comes later, after all the neighbors fight it out with no information.  We don’t know what we don’t know and PSE isn’t able to answer (or from the North meeting Workshop #2 documentation, refuses to answer) the questions to the level of detail most people desire to make decisions about their homes and communities.  In all honesty, I would sincerely and deeply appreciate studies performed in advance of us moving further from the mandated agencies which PSE must comply to.

“It seems like a small investment compared to the current efforts.”

Thank you, well said!

The fact is, the self-serving “experts” at PSE don’t know everything but act as if they do. They have set, pat answers for every question. Their “public outreach” in reality is one big, phony, evasive sales job.

We all deserve a MORATORIUM on this project until all facts and issues are honestly investigated and disclosed by independent, credible sources. At a minimum, this project should be put on hold for as long as necessary until we are assured all reasonable alternatives to corridors and technologies PSE wants to use have been thoroughly vetted. PSE has had three years to plan the project and launch its PR campaign; those of us who will have to live for decades by whatever decisions PSE plans to make on its own deserve equal time.

At least PSE has been honest enough to admit that all their public shows about citizen input is something they can completely ignore come site selection time (Wappler, 4/21 “Q&A” meeting at Renton Technical College). The “CAG” process is a charade.

AND there is this: We have been informed by electrical engineering experts that the proposed PSE project isn’t necessary and/or better routes exist. PSE admits there is indeed a “short-term” solution that could put this monster project off for as much as five years, but they want “a bigger solution” for all the hassle they’re going through now so the monster poles and wires can remain into “2030 or beyond.” (Wappler, 4/21 “Q&A” meeting at Renton Technical College).