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Energy conservation on Bainbridge Island hits goal set by Puget Sound Energy

It was a veritable report card on the island’s efforts to lower and sustain energy consumption. And Bainbridge did well.

Representatives from Puget Sound Energy spoke with the city council at its early April meeting to address the conclusion of the company’s three-year promise to the island.

After the island’s power consumption continued to climb years ago, talk of adding a fourth substation to the island was met with criticism. The three-year commitment allowed Bainbridge to improve its energy consumption.

Puget Sound Energy provided the goal of remaining under 58 megawatts of power usage for the entire island. If the goal was met, then adding more electrical infrastructure would not be needed for the immediate future.

How did Bainbridge do?

“We have been staying below the 58 megawatts consistently,” said Linda Streissguth, manager of customer and community engagement for the local region.

“I think that is partially-weather related, and certainly the RePower efforts have been holding usage at a steady pace,” Streissguth said, referring in part to the effort to encourage homeowners to conduct energy audits and make changes afterward.

The weather in recent years has helped the island cut down on power consumption. Electricity is commonly used the heat homes and water on Bainbridge, and consumption jumps in the winter months.

Streissguth noted that this past winter was very mild, however.

Peak energy consumption for Bainbridge was on Jan. 13, a day when temperatures dipped into the 20s. This caused the two substations on the southern end of the island hit 44.4 megawatts.

The Winslow substation peaked at 29 megawatts that day, four megawatts over its recommended capacity.

Substations can exceed their recommended capacity, commonly referred to as “nameplate capacity,” without disruption to service. The equipment, however, bears much greater wear and tear at elevated levels, causing its lifespan to be shortened. That is a chief concern for Puget Sound Energy.

But the weather can’t take all the credit for the island’s powerful success.

“We have been in a recession for a few years where growth and development has been stalled,” Streissguth said.

“Our total number of customers on the island is within

20 customers of what it was four years ago,” she said. “Things have remained static and stable.”

Streissguth said she doesn’t expect any significant infrastructure being added to the island for at least five years.

How the island has fared in recent years was only half the reason for the company’s visit. Looking ahead was the other. The power utility has more than just its annual tree trimming in store for the island.

Puget Sound Energy plans to complete a wiring project on New Sweden Road over the coming year.

Two new tree wire projects will also be carried out along Fletcher Bay from New Brooklyn Road to Bucklin Hill Road, and another along Manzanita from Day Road toward Agate Pass. The projects will replace existing lines with wire armored with thicker jackets, protecting them against trees branches, a common cause of power outages.

Another project will allow for greater flexibility to return service after power outages in the Lynwood and Crystal Springs area. More wire will be added to the south end of the island.

Finally, the island should soon see the completion of the Eagle Harbor project that was highly visible in 2012. Construction of underground lines has been completed on Bucklin Hill Road, and PSE plans to finish over the next four months.

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