A technology revolution has occurred in the energy industry since PSE proposed Energize Eastside over seven years ago. Is a transmission line upgrade the most cost-effective way to improve the reliability of our electricity? Probably not!
The chart below shows the total duration of all outages affecting 100 or more Newcastle customers since 2007. As you can see, most outages are caused by trees falling on neighborhood power lines (shown by the dashed green line). In the past few years, equipment failure has caused a few outages. Energize Eastside would do nothing to prevent either of these types of outages.
What kind of outage would Energize Eastside prevent? One caused by an extremely rare confluence of unlikely events that has never happened before (including extreme weather; failure of multiple transformers and power plants; large transfers of electricity to California or Canada; and a forecast of rapidly growing demand for electricity that never materialized on the Eastside). These assumed events are very unlikely to happen simultaneously in the future, making Energize Eastside a costly solution in search of a problem.
Doing nothing would be better than spending a quarter-billion dollars on a project nobody needs. But there are other solutions that would improve reliability, save customers money, and benefit our environment. CENSE recommends a “Virtual Power Plant” – a collection of rooftop solar panels, batteries in homes and businesses, and smart grid technologies that innovative utilities use to meet high levels of demand for electricity and respond to local power outages. This is the “CENSEible” solution to pursue!