PSE, community consider how to solve a problem | In Our Opinion | April 9

PSE, community consider how to solve a problem | In Our Opinion | April 9

Puget Sound Energy has been approaching a complicated, controversial Bainbridge issue as a responsible corporate citizen in the way it has addressed the community regarding the need to increase the electric system’s capacity and reliability in the central and southern parts of the island. The problem is real, but the difficulty here is how to address it. (See pages 9 and 12 for additional stories).

PSE was adamant at first about how to fix the problem, but has since realized the importance of getting the community fully involved. The Washington Utililities and Transportation Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, wants a solution and PSE’s initial reaction was to build another substation and adding a connecting transmission line.

The reaction was certainly reasonable if done on the mainland, but Bainbridge Island is a little different. Many residents have seen the issue as a wake-up call to take more of a conservation approach and to explore the issue thoroughly. This is a healthy reaction because it will give islanders more time to identify the problem and find the best solution for the community.

The capacity problem can be solved at least for the short term by adding a second transformer to one of the existing susbstations – probably the Winslow one. But the biggest dilemma is what to do about the power outages, which are caused primarily by the fact island trees are allowed to grow precariously close to the island’s 145 miles of overhead distribution lines.

That’s the way of the island no doubt, but what if PSE could trim more often and cut back further from the lines? Otherwise, outages will continue. They have always been a part of island life, but are more of an annoyance now with the electricity-based technology we now enjoy. What to do?

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