Bellevue residents appeal approval of Energize Eastside permit

A Bellevue Hearing Examiner decision to approve an Energize Eastside permit is being appealed.

Five appeals have been filed with the city of Bellevue regarding a recent Hearing Examiner decision to approve Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) application for a transmission line and substation as part of the South Bellevue segment of Energize Eastside.

Energize Eastside is a project to upgrade 16 miles of transmission line and add a new substation along the existing transmission line corridor from Redmond to Renton. On June 25, a Hearing Examiner approved PSE’s application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the south Bellevue segment.

On July 9, five appeals were filed with the city to contest the Hearing Examiner’s determination. The Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sensible Energy (CENSE) submitted one of the appeals as they disagreed with 90 of the Hearing Examiner’s findings of fact.

Don Marsh, president of CENSE, said one example of an element in the Examiner’s conclusion that CENSE took issue with was a claim that “common sense” supported PSE’s concern that heat in the summer months could pose a risk of failure for the transmission line system. Marsh said it was a problematic statement as common sense is not land use code, and that PSE did not specify how much stress it would cause or what the proper level of response to that stress would be.

A second appeal was submitted by the group Citizens for Sane Eastside Energy who claimed there may have been procedural missteps during the hearing itself. Marsh said the last three appeals all came from Bellevue citizens in the Bridle Trails neighborhood who said they had not received notice of the meeting. Marsh said the decision was unclear as to whether certain aspects applied to the north section of Bellevue. If so, those residents would have needed to be notified of the meeting as well.

PSE spokesperson Janet Kim said they will defend the project at an appeal hearing this fall as they continue to pursue the CUP not only in Bellevue, but in other jurisdictions as well.

“We are reviewing the appeals and we look forward to defending the project which has been recommended for approval from the city of Bellevue staff and the Hearing Examiner,” she said.

CUP isn’t the last permit PSE needs to begin work in South Bellevue, Kim said there are still construction related permits needed from the city, and CUP processes are in the works in both the cities of Newcastle and Renton.

According to Bellevue’s chief communications officer Brad Harwood, the city is working with both parties to set a hearing date which is likely to land some time in early Fall. Any appeal to the city council’s decision will be sent to King County Superior Court, he said.