Letters to the Editor

New high-voltage lines not worth the risk, cost | Letters | Jan. 8

There is deep concern in the community with the Puget Sound Energy proposal to build a new high-voltage transmission line linking the Winslow and Murden Cove substations.

The new line would do very little to reduce power outages on the island. In fact, using PSE’s own data, the high-voltage line would prevent an average of one power outage every two years for residents served by the Murden Cove substation (3,700 customers) and one outage every 1.2 years for those served by the Winslow substation (4,300) customers.

None of the outages on the island so far this fall and winter would have been prevented by the proposed line and, in fact, the vast majority of outages on the island occur from trees falling on the lower voltage distribution lines. Rather than spend millions of dollars installing new high-voltage lines and raising rates, residents would be much better served by PSE increasing its work to trim trees near existing lines – something the utility recently announced it will do this year.

A second and far stronger argument against the PSE proposal is related to the widely recognized health risks associated with living near high-voltage lines and the electro-magnetic fields (EMF) they emit. This is important given that PSE’s proposed routes run past Ordway, Odyssey, Bainbridge High School, Sakai and Woodward, as well as the most densely populated part of the island.

In recent years, a large number of studies have demonstrated the clear risks posed by persistent EMF exposure. For example, the “Draper Report,” a large epidemiological study conducted at Oxford University in England, definitively proves that there is a 70 percent increase in the incidence of childhood leukemia for children living within 200 meters of high-voltage power lines. You can read this study at http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint_abr/330/7503/1290.

In another large study, “Lowenthal et al” in 2007 found that children raised in the first five years of their lives within 300 meters of high-voltage lines were five times more likely of developing certain kinds of cancer later in life. Reports issued by the World Health Organization concluded that there was a proven correlation between proximity to high-voltage power lines and an increased risk of childhood leukemia. It recommended that public utilities and governments should place high-voltage lines away from schools, high-density neighborhoods, churches and businesses.

I live in a house where we rely exclusively on electricity for our heating and wholeheartedly support increasing the reliability of our power. But as a parent, I believe that the inconvenience of one power outage every 1.2 to 2 years is not worth the risk of even one of our children or neighbors developing leukemia or some other cancer.

If you agree, you can voice your concerns to Heather Brickey at PSE by email (heather.brickey@pse.com) or phone (425) 456-2848.

Bob McCready

Bainbridge Island

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