By Marc Stiles, Puget Sound Business Journal
Puget Sound Energy says it needs to double transmission capacity to meet the growing electrical demands of businesses such as Boeing, Costco and Google.
To do that, it will need to build new high-capacity transmission lines along an 18-mile corridor between Renton and Redmond. The project, which PSE officials are calling Energize Eastside, will cost as much as $300 million and could force property owners to sell their land, depending on where the new power lines are situated. The possible corridor routes will be discussed at community meetings starting next month.
The utility will spend the next three years planning and designing to begin construction in 2017 and complete it by 2018. That is when PSE forecasts that demand for electricity will exceed the capacity of the current 115-kilovolt transmission lines.
With about 300,000 people living in the Energize Eastside area, it is the fastest growing region in the state and while population growth is a key factor behind the project, “job growth is really the driver” according to Andy Wappler (PSE Vice President of Corporate Affairs).
Google is doubling the size of its Kirkland campus, Costco is talking about expanding its headquarters in Issaquah and Boeing plans to ramp up production of 737 jets to 42 a month. Redmond’s population more than doubles every day as employees arrive to work!
To handle this kind of demand, PSE plans to build new 230-kilovolt lines. Wappler said the project isn’t expected to cause customers’ electricity rates to increase and would satisfy the community’s needs for years to come. “This is not a one-year deal,” Wappler said. “This will be serving the Eastside for 20 to 30 years to come.”