Voice YOUR opinion at the Newcastle Public Hearing on Energize Eastside

The City of Newcastle is hosting a multi-day public hearing in January to decide whether to permit the Newcastle segment of the Energize Eastside Project. Regardless of your city of residence, it is critical that you speak at the hearing or submit comments to the hearing examiner. This hearing will be our best opportunity to stop this destructive and unneeded project.

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Hearing Schedule

The hearing will take place on Zoom. CENSE and other legal parties presented their cases beginning on January 11. Public testimony will follow, beginning on January 28. There is an evening session on the 28th for those who work during the day. The public may view the entire proceedings but will be allowed to speak only during the public comment period.

  • January 11, Tuesday, 9:00 AM (completed)
    • Presentation by City of Newcastle staff, PSE, and witnesses. Watch the video (10 hours)
  • January 14, Friday, 9:00 AM (completed)
    • Presentations by CENSE, Larry Johnson and witnesses. To be continued on January 28. Watch the video (8 hours)
  • January 28, Friday, 9:00 AM:
    • 1) Continue unfinished January 14 business: remaining witnesses from CENSE and Mr. Larry Johnson (approx 2 hrs)
    • 2) Public testimony, three minutes per person.
      Two sessions:
      • Morning/Afternoon Session: Begins after #1 completes, as early as 10 AM but maybe as late as noon. Start checking in around 10 AM so you can raise your hand early. This public testimony session continues until all have spoken or 5 PM, whichever occurs first. Note: Even if this session ends early, the evening session will still take place.
      • Evening Session: Begins at 6:00 PM and continues until all have spoken or 9 PM, whichever occurs first.
    • Zoom meeting link – Meeting ID: 850 8593 9558 – Passcode: 893824
  • January 31, Monday, 9:00 AM
    • Public testimony, three minutes per person, starting at 9:00 AM and continuing until all have spoken. Followed by final comments by the City of Newcastle and Puget Sound Energy
    • Zoom meeting link  – Meeting ID: 835 1547 6240 – Passcode: 388552
  • February 1, Tuesday, 9:00 AM: Optional meeting day held in reserve to accommodate any unfinished business

How to provide Oral Comments

  • There is no sign-up procedure. The meeting host will ask attendees wishing to speak to electronically raise their hands (there is a utility in the Zoom meeting for this). It is recommended that you raise your hand as early as possible
  • There is no video, only your voice will be heard by the Hearing Examiner and other attendees
  • Speakers will be called on based on the manner they have self-identified when they joined the meeting. If they show up on screen as “John,” they will be called on as “John.” Or “Beautybark2000,” or “the caller at 555-867-5309,” etc
  • Speakers will need to unmute themselves
  • The speaker will need to introduce him/herself before beginning testimony
  • You will be allowed 3 minutes to speak after introducing yourself
  • The timer will be started, and appear on the screen
  • You will be stopped after the 3 minute timer runs out
  • Note that oral testimony for each of the 3 sessions will end when all speakers have had their turn.  If you join the meeting late in the session to speak, you may find that the session has already ended.
  • See suggestions on topics for comments in the “Tips” section below

How to submit Written Comments

If you cannot speak at the hearing, please submit written comments either by U.S. mail or e-mail. If you speak at the hearing, it is recommended that you also submit your statement in written form.

  • Submit by U.S. mail: 12835 Newcastle Way, Suite 200, Newcastle, Washington 98056
  • Submit by email: cityclerk@newcastlewa.gov
  • Suggested subject line: Public Testimony for Hearing Examiner re: Energize Eastside permit
  • Suggested salutation: “Mr. Hearing Examiner,” (his name is Andrew Kottkamp)
  • Deadline: January 30 at 5 PM (to be included in the meeting record)
  • See suggestions on topics for comments in the “Tips” section below
image: current transmission line
Today: Existing power lines and poles in Newcastle.
image: proposed transmission line
The future? Taller poles and higher-voltage power lines proposed by PSE’s Energize Eastside project.

Tips for making effective written or oral statements

Your written or oral comments are important and can make a difference in the Hearing Examiner’s decision whether to permit Energize Eastside. They will be included in the hearing’s legal record.

  • Focus on one point per written or oral statement
  • Include your name and address
  • For oral presentations, time your speech for just under 3 minutes so you can speak at a normal pace.
  • Submit a written copy of your oral presentation
  • Describe as specifically as possible how your property would be affected by the project OR how the project would change your experience of living in Newcastle. (see topics below)
  • Provide photos if appropriate
  • Close by stating the decision you want the Hearing Examiner to make on the permit.

Relevant Topics for Comments

Project threatens Newcastle’s safety

Background: The larger power poles and higher voltage lines would share the 100-foot-wide utility corridor with 2 Olympic pipelines that carry 13 million gallons of jet fuel and gasoline through Newcastle each day. These 16-inch and 20-inch diameter pipelines run down the center of a 100-foot-wide utility corridor.

  • Damage to the pipeline could cause a catastrophic fire, similar to one that occurred along the same pipeline in 1999 in Bellingham.
  • Setbacks and Right of Way (ROW) widths do not conform with best practices and standards widely used by other utilities for 230kV lines. And these standards do not include co-located petroleum pipelines.
  • The City of Newcastle’s Safety consultant found numerous flaws is PSE’s study of the Energize Eastside’s safety risks. Many examples can be found in the 10-page Accufacts report. (PDF)
  • See the Newcastle Safety page for more details.

Project degrades Newcastle’s park-like character and property values

Background: Newcastle would lose more than 200 valuable trees to accommodate the higher voltage power lines. The new power lines will tower above the tree canopy and be visible for a mile or more.

  • All properties adjacent to the right of way would have vegetation cleared for construction and tree height limited to 15 feet.
  • Newcastle is the only city in the project whose property tax revenues are projected to decline enough to require adjustments to the tax rate.
  • See the Newcastle Quality-of-Life page for more details.

Project does not provide more reliable electricity for Newcastle

Background: The project will do little to eliminate power outages caused by winter storms or summer heat waves. These outages are not caused by “overheated” transmission lines, but by damage to equipment in substations or to broken distribution lines.

  • Newcastle’s forecasted electrical use does not require 230kV transmission lines.
  • See the Newcastle Reliability page for more details.

Better Solutions Exist

Background: PSE’s studies of alternatives are outdated and do not analyze state-of-the-art solutions combining solar power, battery storage and demand response commonly used by utilities today. These technologies can be added incrementally as needed and they avoid the “all-or-nothing”approach of huge transmission line projects. See this page for more details.

See also…

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