Newcastle indecisive on Energize Eastside
Too many unanswered questions and insufficient data
On Friday, the City of Newcastle released a long awaited 94-page report (PDF) on Energize Eastside. Many residents were astounded to learn that Newcastle will defer decisions on PSE’s permit application to the city’s hired Hearing Examiner.
Here are some of the top findings in the report:
- Need. Newcastle’s independent consultant, Synapse, found no need for the project originating within Newcastle. Also, no need for the bigger poles and wires to serve any winter need.
- Safety. The city stated that PSE has not provided enough information to determine if the project could be safely built and operated so close to half-century-old petroleum pipelines that share the same narrow utility corridor.
- Impacts. Taller poles would become a “defining feature” for several Newcastle neighborhoods, “substantially changing the residential character.” This is inconsistent with Newcastle’s Comprehensive Plan.
- Alternatives. Synapse left open the possibility that an alternative solution could be sited elsewhere, possibly closer to where the need originates in downtown Bellevue, leaving Newcastle’s neighborhoods, parks, and downtown core undisturbed.
- Decision criteria. City staff made no recommendation, pro or con, on 11 different decision criteria mandated by the city’s land use codes.
Public hearings for the project have been tentatively scheduled for multiple days beginning on January 11.