Puget Sound Energy steps closer to constructing 16-mile power line. But opponents are not backing down.

Source: Paige Cornwell, Seattle Times, July 1, 2019

The Bellevue hearing examiner has ruled in favor of Puget Sound Energy’s “Energize Eastside” project, bringing the utility one step closer to construction on a portion of the 16-mile power line project that’s been at the center of a nearly six-year debate. 

The ruling approved PSE’s conditional-use permit for one phase of the $150 million-plus project that would build high-voltage lines from Redmond to Renton. The permit is limited to south Bellevue, where the utility hopes to build a new substation and add 3.3 miles of 230-kilovolt lines.

Two groups opposed to Energize Eastside said they plan to file appeals with the Bellevue City Council.

Puget Sound Energy — and opponents who have spent years and thousands of dollars to fight the project — had been awaiting the ruling since early April, following four days of public hearings.

The utility called the permit approval a “key milestone” for Energize Eastside, but there’s still no estimated date for when construction could begin. PSE still has to apply for additional permits in Bellevue and conditional-use permits in Newcastle and Renton, which will take months.

“It’s momentum forward, and it gets us closer to construction,” said Keri Pravitz, Energize Eastside community projects manager.

PSE says the project is needed to provide reliable power to 400,000 people on the Eastside, which hasn’t had a major upgrade to its system’s capacity since the 1960s.

The proposed route would run along an existing path of power lines and will have transmission lines strung on new steel monopoles that are 20 to 40 feet taller than the wooden H-frames that are in use. The lines would be upgraded from the current 115-kilovolt lines. A kilovolt is 1,000 volts.

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