Community Advisory Group makes Energize Eastside route recommendation

December 12, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 9 a.m. Dec. 12, 2014

The Community Advisory Group working on Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside transmission line upgrade project has made its final route recommendations and both include lines through Newcastle.

The panel – comprised of neighborhood, business and civic leaders – selected routes Oak and Willow at their final meeting Dec. 10. The advisory group’s final recommendation is based on its work over the last year, including discussion of community feedback collected throughout 2014.

Of the 20 advisory group members and residential alternates present at the meeting, 17 supported the final recommendation. Of those 17, eight expressed preference for the Oak route and five expressed preference for the Willow route, while four supported either route.

Three advisory group members had a dissenting opinion and supported none of the routes. One of those was Olympus resident Sue Stronk.

“I was one of the three that refused to vote on any final route as any vote would harm our residents since segment M is in both remaining routes,” she said in a letter to fellow residents. “The three of us not voting will sign a minority report and present it to PSE with the reasons why we did not vote.”

These are the final recommended routes that now move on to PSE for an even more thorough review:

  • Oak (Segments A-C-E-G2-I-K2-M-N)
  • Willow (Segments A-C-E-J-M-N)

Segment M is the one that goes directly through Newcastle.

Credit: Puget Sound Energy The Puget Sound Energy Community Advisory Group recommended Oak and Willow routes for the Energize Eastside project. Both include Segment M, which runs through Newcastle.

Credit: Puget Sound Energy
The Puget Sound Energy Community Advisory Group recommended Oak and Willow routes for the Energize Eastside project. Both include Segment M, which runs through Newcastle.

PSE will ultimately make an announcement about routing after reviewing the Community Advisory Group’s recommendation, larger public feedback and opportunities and constraints surrounding the project. That decision is expected in early 2015.

The Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sensible Energy said in a news release that the “outcome of this process does not represent the wishes of the community.”

CENSE believes PSE prematurely eliminated better energy alternatives and never even gave the Community Advisory Group a chance to consider them.

The process appears far from over though, as affected cities, led by Bellevue, come together to hire an independent consultant to research the project, and work through the Environmental Impact Statement process.

Also during the coming months, PSE will work directly with property owners and tenants to begin detailed fieldwork to inform the route alignment, project design, the environmental review process, and permit applications; ask for community input on project design, which may include pole location, height, finish and other design considerations; and work with the city of Bellevue and other affected jurisdictions and agencies on the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process.

“Olympus already has experienced a home buyer, after placing a down payment, back out of the sale after learning of this project coming to their back yard,” Stronk said. “Our residents will suffer monetarily by this project.”

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