Energize Eastside scoping meetings begin

April 30, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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A slew of Eastside cities are ready to take the next step in exploring Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside project.

Led by the city of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Renton and Newcastle will work together to provide an environmental review of PSE’s proposal to build about 18 miles of high-capacity electric transmission lines from Renton to Redmond.

The Energize Eastside Environmental Impact Statement is a legally mandated process that will critically evaluate potential significant environmental impacts associated with the project and project alternatives.

It begins in earnest this month with a 45-day comment period, highlighted by five community scoping meetings where residents are invited to share their thoughts about Energize Eastside.

“I view it as one of the most, if not the most, critical projects on the radar for Newcastle,” said Tim McHarg, Newcastle’s director of community development. “So we’re hoping that a broad cross-section of folks will come and attend.”

Newcastle’s meeting is from 6-8 p.m. May 28 at Newcastle Elementary School, but all are welcome to attend any of the four other meetings held in Bellevue, Kirkland and Renton, McHarg said.

McHarg described the meetings as part forum, part open house. Meetings will be divided into two rooms, with one serving as an informational space staffed by different city employees and the EIS consultant, while the other room offers a place to respond and comment on the project.

Court stenographers will take verbal testimony, while comment cards will be provided to anyone who prefers to write their thoughts, McHarg said. If residents want to wait and offer thoughts later, there will be a means to do that through the project website, www.energizeeastsideeis.org, until the initial scoping period ends June 15.

Puget Sound Energy officials will attend the meetings, though McHarg stressed that “they will have a table, but they will not be the ones providing the information.” Meetings will be set up such that if people want to interface with just city staff and consultants, they can, he said.

“This really is the opportunity for people to get engaged in the process,” McHarg said. “Up to this point, the only process has been what’s been sponsored and run by PSE itself. This is really the first time independent cities will offer a process for people to get engaged.”

PSE introduced the Energize Eastside project about a year ago in response to the region’s growing power needs.

Get involved

Residents are invited to attend and comment on the Energize Eastside project at any of the five scoping meetings:

  • 6-9 p.m. May 12 at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E., Bellevue
  • 6-8 p.m. May 14 at Renton City Hall, 1055 S. Grady Way, Renton
  • 6-8 p.m. May 26 at Kirkland City Hall, 123 Fifth Ave., Kirkland
  • 6-8 p.m. May 28 at Newcastle Elementary School, 8400 136th Ave. S.E., Newcastle
  • 2-4 p.m. May 30 at North Bellevue Community Center, 4063 148th Ave. N.E., Bellevue

Learn more about the Environmental Impact Statement process at www.energizeeastsideeis.org.

It initially offered 16 potential route segments for the power lines that could be configured in 19 ways.

In a process that many decried, especially locally, the Energize Eastside Community Advisory Group — comprised of neighborhood, business and civic leaders — offered its route recommendations in December 2014.

Both included Route M, which goes through Newcastle.

The EIS will take place in two primary phases. Phase 1 includes an environmental review that will describe the transmission capacity deficiency that outlines the Energize Eastside need, and evaluate the potential environmental impacts of various approaches to meeting that need.

Phase 2 involves a more specific and detailed review of a smaller number of alternatives based on outcomes from Phase 1.

Each phase will include a scoping process to determine the specific project alternatives and aspects of the environment that should be studied in detail in the EIS.

“It’s the best way for residents to get their input into this really critical project for Newcastle and the Eastside,” McHarg said of the upcoming scoping meetings.

“If they want to impact the issues and the analysis, that initial scoping comment period is really critical for folks. Once the comment period for Phase 1 ends on June 15, we’re going to start our analysis in earnest.”

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One Response to “Energize Eastside scoping meetings begin”

  1. Energize Eastside scoping meeting comes to Newcastle May 28 : Newcastle News – News , Sports, Classifieds in Newcastle, WA on May 27th, 2015 5:17 pm

    […] Learn more about the meetings here. […]

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