Trial by fire

As temperatures surpassed 110 degrees in many Eastside locations on Monday, June 28, 2021, the electric grid faced an unprecedented challenge. Demand for electricity was almost 10% higher than the previous summer record set in 2017. Dozens of power outages sometimes impacted more than 10,000 customers at a time. PSE’s hardworking crews fixed problems almost as fast as they occurred, and we appreciate their efforts.

On the afternoon of 6/28/2021, power outages appeared as red splotches throughout PSE’s service territory.

Would Energize Eastside have prevented these outages?
No, most of the impacted customers live beyond the boundary of the Eastside.

To reduce these widely-dispersed outages, PSE needs a more general solution based on modern technology like solar panels and batteries, rather than increasing the voltage of transmission lines on the Eastside. PSE describes the benefits of these technologies on its website: 

Batteries have the potential to solve energy challenges we all care about. They can provide temporary back-up power when you experience an outage, store energy from solar panels, help businesses manage their usage, and much more. Their ability to provide storage for renewables, like wind and solar, can also support our customers’ and PSE’s desire for cleaner energy.  (source: PSE)

Batteries power emergency responders
Besides the advantages PSE mentioned, batteries could make our communities more resilient by providing electricity for emergency response services. CENSE recommends installing batteries near fire and police stations, hospitals, and community centers. By maintaining emergency response services near full capacity, trapped or injured citizens are more likely to receive critical care during the first hours after disaster strikes.

Don’t hospitals already have emergency generators?
Yes, but the generators can’t supply enough electricity to enable full operation. During a heat emergency, hospitals can’t maintain temperatures necessary to perform surgical procedures or CAT scans. A modernized grid would not only keep the lights on, but would keep all services functioning normally.

Modern solutions are already operating in other cities, providing better reliability for less cost and less environmental harm than Energize Eastside (see cense.org/vpp). These solutions can be designed to benefit every neighborhood and all income levels.

What can you do?
Don’t let PSE push our community into an inferior energy solution. Ask city leaders to support solutions that increase our resiliency to disasters, reduce environmental harm, and provide equitable outcomes for all residents, regardless of their location or financial worth.

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