Puget Sound Energy fails to prove local need for Energize Eastside | Letter

Puget Sound Energy claims that the Eastside transmission grid is running out of capacity. Prove it. Stop hiding behind Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII), and produce factual data. Several qualified individuals have been granted CEII clearance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and are being denied access to unfiltered, unmodified data from PSE. PSE has failed to prove the local need for Energize Eastside.

Recently the Seattle Times ran an article on BC Hydro’s controversial “Site C” hydroelectric dam and power station, one of the largest public infrastructure projects in Canadian history (“$7 billion dam tests the limits of state power”). The Canadian government admits the economics of this project are awful given flat-to-declining demand for electricity as well as cheaper energy alternatives. BC Hydro admits Site C will generate far more electricity than Canada needs. Could BC Hydro be working in collusion with PSE’s Canadian owners to build multi-billion dollar “white elephant” electricity generation and transmission infrastructure? To serve what purpose?

Energize Eastside transmission line is a link in the conduit to transport excess electricity. Is it merely a coincidence that PSE was recently granted permission to participate in the California Energy Imbalance Market? Energize Eastside will cost PSE customers more than $1 billion over the next 40 years, while simultaneously allowing PSE to collect a toll on electrons flowing north and south through our region in support of California and Oregon clean energy legislation.

PSE’s claims of running out of capacity are not supported by the facts. Despite an eight-fold increase in Eastside population since the 1960s, electricity demand (and peak demand) have declined due to more energy-efficient building techniques, energy-saving appliances and electronics and micro-generation sources supplementing the grid. Declining year-over-year electricity demand is occurring in the face of robust economic and population growth.

It is disappointing that Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission is quietly giving a green light to PSE’s Energize Eastside project in exchange for PSE’s accelerated closure of the coal-fired Colstrip generating facility as well as The Sierra Club dropping Colstrip litigation. While I applaud the closure of one of the foulest polluters west of the Mississippi, is it fair that it comes at the cost of sacrificing the environment through five Eastside cities — to keep a highly leveraged, foreign-held, private-equity utility financially solvent? An investigation is in order.

Russell Borgmann


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