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.
Federal regulations require PSE to have sufficient infrastructure to meet foreseeable demand or plan for intentional rolling blackouts to customers. If PSE plans to use rotating blackouts to meet our 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 utilize additional Corrective Action Plans that resort to intentional rolling blackouts. 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.
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.
Five studies have confirmed that a solution to provide reliable power for local Eastside customers must be implemented by the winter of 2017-18 to avoid risking power outages.
Energize Eastside needed?
City of Bellevue
Utility System Efficiencies
City of Bellevue
Stantec Consulting Services
Early on in the planning process, we tried to see if we could address the Eastside’s electrical needs 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, and new transmission lines would still be required to distribute electricity from the battery site to our customers.
- 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. More information is available in the City's Environmental Impact Statement, which is available at EnergizeEastside.org.
- While conservation is an important component for addressing Eastside demand, conservation alone is not enough.
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.
Our preference is to use the existing transmission line corridor. We’re studying route options that reflect this value and vary in the Factoria area of Bellevue. The Willow 1 and Oak 1 route options were recommended by the Community Advisory Group, while Willow 2 and Oak 2 are variants of those options.
All four of these route options solve the Eastside's electrical problem, address community concerns and are being analyzed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. For more detail, see the interactive map.
As the EIS process progresses, we will continue to evaluate which route to submit for permitting.
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 more than 400 project briefings with stakeholders, neighborhoods and cities; mailed multiple postcards and newsletters; and received more than 2,800 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 interestes 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 to the extent possible 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.
PSE is looking at several pole design options, most of which range from 85 feet to 100 feet above ground. In some instances, poles could be as short as 65 feet, while some poles may need to be taller than 100 feet in certain locations, such as crossing a highway. We will do our best to work with the community and minimize pole heights where it is safe to do so. View our Photo Simulations to see conceptual photos of the upgraded transmission lines.
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.