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Bellevue considering third-party study for Energize Eastside

 

The Washington Utilities Transportation Commission can't prevent Puget Sound Energy from running upgraded transmission lines more than 100 feet above neighborhoods from Renton to Redmond, but it can prevent the energy company from recovering costs if the project is deemed unnecessary or excessive.

Bellevue councilmembers are considering a third-party study to determine whether PSE's Energize Eastside – placing 18 miles of 230kV transmission lines from Renton to Redmond – is necessary after months of hearing strong opposition from the community.

Members of the WUTC spoke to the council Monday about its involvement in energy projects in the state, saying it only weighs in on the need for a project once it is completed, determining whether a company can recover its costs through rate adjustments.

The council was concerned about WUTC's review of PSE's 2013 Integrated Resource Plan, which Juliana Williams, regulatory analyst for conservation and energy planning, confirmed did not show an immediate need for additional resources, though it was not always clear how need tied in with an analysis of transmission lines.

She added PSE has energy contracts set to expire over its planning horizon and must decide if it will extend those agreements or acquire more resources to meet that level of demand.

Councilmembers agreed Bellevue's 2011 electrical reliability plan should be updated to boost the city's knowledge about energy needs looking toward a 2015 IRP, but didn't feel it would answer questions critical to Energize Eastside. Mayor Claudia Balducci said another third-party study would be helpful to give Bellevue more guidance about its regulatory authority.

 

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