The Energize Eastside project will build a new substation and upgrade approximately 18 miles of existing transmission lines from Redmond to Renton. Combined with continued electric conservation, Energize Eastside will keep the lights on for homes and businesses in our Eastside communities for years to come.
Click the facts below to learn more about Energize Eastside.
The last major upgrade to the backbone of the Eastside’s electric grid was more than 50 years ago in the 1960s. Since then, our population has grown eight-fold and our economy relies on reliable power in ways that it did not 50 years ago. This growth will only continue. Projections by the Puget Sound Regional Council show the Eastside population will likely grow by another third and employment will grow by more than three-quarters over the next 25 years.
Studies project that growth on the Eastside could cause demand for electricity to exceed the capacity of the backbone of the Eastside’s transmission system as early as winter 2017-18 and summer of 2018.
Federal regulations require PSE to have sufficient infrastructure to meet foreseeable demand requirements or plan for intentional rolling blackouts to customers. If PSE plans to use rotating blackouts to meet its federally-mandated requirements, we must discuss that plan publicly.
Our studies show that if no action is taken to upgrade the backbone of the Eastside's transmission system, PSE may have to use additional Corrective Action Plans that plan for intentional rolling blackouts to meet federal requirements. This could impact more than 130,000 customers as early as the summer of 2018, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to the local economy. That is why we need to act now.
The Energize Eastside project will provide the necessary infrastructure to meet federally-mandated requirements without having to plan for rotating blackouts and without having a public discussion of the need to plan for blackouts. No responsible utility — or community, particularly those that value sophisticated technology industries — wants to use intentional rolling blackouts as a federal compliance strategy. That certainly is not PSE’s desire.
"Is the [Energize Eastside] project needed to address the reliability of the electric grid on the Eastside? Yes." - Utility System Efficiencies, Inc., April 28, 2015
Multiple independent studies have made it clear that we need to upgrade the Eastside’s electric infrastructure now to accommodate local population and economic growth and avoid planning for power outages in the very near future.
Energize Eastside needed?
City of Bellevue
Utility System Efficiencies
City of Bellevue
Stantec Consulting Services
Early on in the planning process, we studied whether the Eastside’s electrical needs could be addressed with other solutions rather than building new infrastructure. Some have suggested that we use batteries to store power for peak use, increase use of alternative power, build a new natural gas generation plant in Bellevue, or simply conserve more.
- We considered using batteries to store energy, but this technology has not been used and won't work for the type and scale of problem facing the Eastside. PSE and the Cities’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) considered batteries and they don’t solve the Eastside’s transmission capacity deficiency. The EIS team noted that using a battery sized to meet the requirements of Energize Eastside is not “technically feasible as the existing Eastside transmission system does not have sufficient capacity to fully charge the system.” PSE is closely monitoring battery storage technology, and is moving forward with a pilot project in Glacier, Wash. to test the viability of the technology on a small scale.
- Increased use of alternative power was also investigated as a possible solution. However, solar panels don’t generate electricity during the peak hours of electricity use, which occurs on winter mornings and evenings.
- Siting a new local power plant in a dense urban area would be extremely difficult to permit, and would still require new transmission lines to deliver the power to customers.
- These alternatives were also studied in the Phase 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). These alternatives were not carried forward in the Phase 2 Draft EIS. To learn more about the alternatives studied, read Chapter 2 of the Phase 1 Draft EIS.
The most reliable and cost-effective solution is a combination of continued, aggressive conservation efforts and building a new substation and higher capacity transmission lines.
Review our fact sheet to learn more about other solutions studied.
After nearly four years of study and extensive dialogue with Eastside communities, PSE has selected the existing corridor “Willow 1” route as the final route to permit for Energize Eastside.
PSE evaluated multiple route options and selected the existing corridor because it is the least impactful route to Eastside communities. Our decision to use the existing corridor was guided by two key factors:
- Our commitment to safety. The project will be built and operated to the highest safety and engineering standards. Using the existing corridor, along with optimized designs and operations, the project can safely co-exist with Olympic Pipeline.
- Our commitment to limit impacts to the environment. This route affects the fewest number of trees and avoids the construction of new corridors. We know our customers value trees. Our goal is for there to be more trees when the project is complete, not fewer.
Click here to learn more about the final route.
In December 2013, PSE announced the project and began a multi-year community outreach effort to share information and to review and gather feedback on potential route options. We also collaborated with local cities, residents, businesses and a 24-member Community Advisory Group.
To-date, we’ve held 22 public meetings and nearly 550 project briefings with stakeholders, neighborhoods and cities; mailed multiple postcards and newsletters; and received nearly 3,000 comments and questions about the project.
In September 2016, PSE began offering to meet with property owners along the existing corridor to talk about site-specific designs for Energize Eastside. We shared our current design for that specific property, including pole locations and how we plan to access those locations during construction. These conversations helped us refine our project design and better understand customer interests and concerns. Learn more about those meetings and how PSE has worked with property owners throughout the project. We continue to engage with the community and listen to feedback to help inform the project.
We know our customers value trees. By using the existing corridor for Energize Eastside, we will limit impacts to trees. Our goal is that, when the project is complete, there will be more trees, not less.
We are working with property owners on property-specific landscaping and tree replacement plans for Energize Eastside. As a responsible and respectful neighbor, we are reaching out to affected property owners to discuss their preferences and identify compatible vegetation to incorporate into these plans.
This route will allow us to have fewer poles within the existing corridor. PSE is committed to keeping pole heights as low as possible. Our plan is to upgrade the existing four wooden poles to one or two steel poles. New poles will typically be located in the same or similar locations as the existing poles. The existing poles range from 55 feet to 65 feet in height and will be replaced with either a single pole typically at 80 feet to 100 feet in height or two poles typically at 70 feet to 85 feet. In some locations, poles may need to be taller than 100 feet, such as when crossing a highway.
Click here for more details about pole design.
Customer safety is always the first priority at PSE, and we have a long history of working closely with Olympic Pipe Line Co. (Olympic). PSE’s existing transmission lines have safely coexisted with the Olympic pipeline in this corridor for decades, even with periodic construction to replace poles.
Both companies have a mutual interest in the protection and safe operation of facilities in the corridor. High voltage electric transmission lines safely coexist with pipelines across the country and in Washington.
In addition, DNV GL, a leading national pipeline safety consulting firm, studied and confirmed that Energize Eastside can be safely colocated with Olympic Pipe Line Company’s pipelines throughout the existing corridor. Learn more about Safety.