Puget Sound Energy expects to begin building a new transmission line between the Lake Hills and Phantom Lake substations by late summer, adding redundancy to the system that already exists in other parts of Bellevue.
“That last storm we had that knocked out power to quite a bit of Bellevue; The people in that neighborhood would not have lost power for that short duration if we’d had that line in,” said project manager Bob Parker.
PSE began planning the addition of a second transmission line connecting the two substations in 2006, wanting to ensure residents wouldn’t lose power when a line to either substation went down, Parker said.
Working with the city of Bellevue, area businesses and residents, PSE came up with a 2.89-mile route for the new 115-kilovolt electrical transmission line along Southeast 16th Street, 148th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Eighth Street.
The Bellevue City Council is set to vote whether to approve moving forward with the project on April 20 based on recommendations from a hearing examiner for a conditional use permit and shoreline CUP. If passed, it would come before the East Bellevue Community Council, which would have 60 days to take action.
Parker said August is the earliest PSE expects to be able to begin construction, with a 6-8 month completion schedule for both the new line and substation upgrades. Power will be routed to affected customers from other substations when the one in Lake Hills is de-energized for upgrades. No outages are expected, Parker said.
PSE’s other transmission line project — Energize Eastside — proposes 18 miles of 230-kilovolt transmission lines from Redmond to Renton, but the energy company doesn’t anticipate that type of capacity ever being needed between the Lake Hills and Phantom Lake substations, said Andy Swayne, municipal liaison manager.
“The existing substation and the transmission lines that feed them are all 115 (kilovolts), so there wouldn’t be any benefit to developing 230 kilovolts,” Swayne said. “We generally don’t use it for serving local areas, that is local neighborhood substations.”
A small portion of the project on Southeast 16th will be completed last, said Parker, to allow the city to complete its own construction there, adding sidewalks, a new median and bike lanes.
The city is requiring PSE pay about $857,000 to mitigate the loss of 295 trees along the transmission line route, and the energy company continues working with the city on a plan for landscaping and tree replacement along Northeast Eighth and 148th.
“Our concern about the trees is just the height,” Parker said. “We don’t want the trees growing back up into these lines.”
PSE has made some alterations to its plans to accommodate residents and businesses, such as moving one of the 39 power poles to be erected to the corner by a resident’s property, said Parker, adding the company is aware not all of the 5,900 Lake Hills residents approve of the project.
“Not everybody’s going to be satisfied, we get it,” he said, “but we’ve been trying to work with the residents and the businesses where we’re going to be and acquiring the easements that we need.”