Voice YOUR opinion at the Newcastle
Public Hearing on Energize Eastside

The City of Newcastle will hold a public hearing to decide whether to permit the Newcastle segment of the Energize Eastside Project. The project would replace the existing 60-foot tall wooden poles and 115kV powerlines in the Newcastle utility corridor with 90-100 foot-tall steel poles and 230kV powerlines. PSE claims the project is needed to meet forecasted peaks in electrical demand, but provides no historical peak-demand data to prove any increasing trend on the Eastside.

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.

Public Hearing via Zoom DATES and TIMES

A Public Hearing via Zoom is scheduled for January 11, 14, 28, 31, and February 1. The legal parties who will be presenting at the hearing include: City of Newcastle, PSE, CENSE (A coalition of neighborhoods who oppose the project), and Larry Johnson, Attorney and Olympus resident. Public testimony will be heard after the legal presentations.

Tips for making effective written or oral statements

Your written or oral comments are important and can make a difference in the 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

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 in 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.

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