PSE Cancels TAG Meeting for August 2019

In January 2019, PSE scheduled a special meeting of its Technical Advisory Group to answer basic questions regarding the need for Energize Eastside. On July 23rd, PSE suddenly canceled the August 6th meeting. The company claimed it could not discuss Energize Eastside after appeals were filed questioning the decision of Bellevue’s Hearing Examiner.

This cancellation violates at least two state regulations requiring public participation in the development of PSE’s long-range Integrated Resource Plan, which must include technical information about large transmission projects. PSE has repeatedly refused to answer even basic questions, such as “Is electricity demand actually increasing on the Eastside?” and “How much will it cost?” The ten questions posed by members of the advisory group are available here.

Below is the letter Don Marsh, a member of the TAG representing CENSE, sent to PSE and the other TAG members in response to the cancellation.

Subject: Cancellation notice: PSE’s August 6, 2019 TAG meeting
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2019
From: Don Marsh
To: TAG Members

Dear PSE and TAG members,

On June 19, 2018, the Utilities and Transportation Commission published its response to PSE’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan. The Commission’s letter included five questions about PSE’s Energize Eastside project (see page 10 of the attached “Revised Acknowledgment Letter”).

Exactly one year later, five members of PSE’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) submitted a document containing ten questions about the same project (attached “Energize Eastside Questions 2019”).

We are deeply disappointed by PSE’s decision to cancel the August 6th meeting that was intended to address these unanswered questions.

PSE has apparently decided that no discussion of Energize Eastside can happen at the TAG while appeals are in process. However, resolution of these appeals could take months or years, exceeding the deadline for the 2019 IRP. (Bellevue’s chief communications officer, Brad Harwood, recently said that the decision of the Bellevue city council could be appealed to King County Superior Court.)

If this meeting is indefinitely postponed, the requirements of Washington Administrative Code 480-100-238.3.d cannot be fulfilled. The regulation requires PSE’s Integrated Resource Plan to include “An assessment of transmission system capability and reliability.” The Technical Advisory Group plays an important role in the development of the IRP, as described in WAC 480-100-238.5: “Public participation. Consultations with commission staff and public participation are essential to the development of an effective plan. The work plan must outline the timing and extent of public participation.

These regulations are not being followed, because the TAG has never been given an opportunity to ask questions about this major transmission project.

We ask PSE to work with the TAG, the UTC, and Public Counsel to find a way to answer these basic questions before land use hearings commence in Newcastle and Renton. No one benefits if these cities are forced to reject PSE’s land use permits due to insufficient technical information.

To fulfill our role, TAG members must be assured that Energize Eastside is addressing a real need, based on good data and reasonable, up-to-date forecasts. We need to gain a clear understanding that an upgraded transmission line remains a cost-effective solution compared to rapidly maturing technologies (such as demand response, advanced efficiency, distributed generation, and energy storage). These modern solutions are being deployed by many utilities to mitigate peak demand contingencies. Indeed, PSE must incorporate these technologies to improve grid reliability and meet the goals of Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act.

Let’s work together to satisfy state regulations and prudently plan for the Eastside’s energy future.

Don Marsh, TAG member