Bellevue City Council needs a month to decide
The Bellevue City Council heard testimony tonight from PSE and CENSE regarding the Hearing Examiner’s decision in favor of permitting Energize Eastside.
CENSE was one of five appellants to submit a legal complaint stating that PSE did not study the effectiveness of its revised Energize Eastside project which appears to exclude the north Bellevue and Redmond segments. CENSE argued that a new study of the smaller project is required to determine if it would actually fulfill the original objectives of the entire proposed 16-mile project. Would a north line through Bellevue and Redmond accomplish the same purpose? Would other alternatives be feasible to address the reduced scope of the project?
In addition, PSE continues to withhold data showing actual electrical peak demand in Bellevue and the Eastside. If demand were growing dramatically, why wouldn’t PSE release the data to conclusively prove the project’s need?
At the appeal hearing, PSE’s attorney testified that the company has met all the legal requirements for the permit and provided studies that meet industry standards for projecting future electrical demand. CENSE argues that even though the methodologies used meet industry standards, PSE’s data is flawed, i.e biased analysis of viable alternatives, outdated weather models, understated conservation measures, etc.
Given that the legal record for the project is huge – 15,000 pages, Mayor John Chelminiak stated at the conclusion of the hearing that Council members would need a month to study the record before issuing a decision.
The council has the option to accept, reject, or remand the decision for further study by the Hearing Examiner. No matter what the city’s decision, it will be challenged in court appeals. The hearing and appeal process will be repeated in Newcastle and Renton. It is likely that the ultimate fate of Energize Eastside could take years.