City holds Energize forum

Opponents of Puget Sound Energy's proposed Energize Eastside project spilled out of council chambers Wednesday during a Bellevue City Hall forum, which is just one part of the city's growing involvement in the controversial undertaking.

The Bellevue City Council has committed to tracking down answers to myriad questions coming from neighborhoods that say their property values will be diminished should large power poles be erected near them as part of the 18-mile transmission line project from Renton to Redmond.

Many residents said Tuesday they're wary of the answers they've been receiving from PSE. They said they feel they're being misled by the energy company, which states the project is critical to meeting Eastside energy demands as soon as 2017, when capacity is expected to be reached.

Todd Anderson, chairman for the Somerset Community Association technical committee, claims PSE is inflating its projections for future demand while understating what percentage of energy generated by the project would go to Canada. He said PSE states 5 percent, while his estimates are at least 38 percent.

PSE is using this year to solicit public comments and work with a community advisory group to determine which of the two routes is preferred for its transmission line project, however, company representatives were not present for Tuesdays' forum.

City Manager Brad Miyake said written and oral comments received Wednesday will be presented to the City Council on June 16. As the jurisdiction impacted most by the transmission project, Bellevue will need to work closely with PSE as it seeks construction permits.

Jeff Dubois, who resides in Greenwich Crest near the H Segment, said that 1.1-mile stretch is concerning in his neighborhood. The clearing of more than 1,000 trees there could compromise the ground along the slope of the hill atop which the neighborhood lies, he said, causing concerns about landslides. He added residents there are considering commissioning geotechnical engineers to provide independent study.

The recently formed Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sensible Energy urged the city to focus on regional solutions to energy demands, to fix what it considers to be a broken community outreach approach by PSE and to engage a third party to produce unbiased research.

Many residents continued to push for undergrounding parts or all of the 230kV transmission lines, arguing against what PSE states is a higher cost that would be absorbed by Bellevue residents based on rules set by the state utilities commission. Rallying against PSE's Australian owner, the Macquarie Group, residents said there's no doubt the energy company can afford the extra cost.


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