Why build a substation when you don’t need it | Letters | Feb. 26
February 26, 2010 · 11:58 AM
In his editorial (“Bottom line, we’re now near capacity,” Feb. 19), Norman Marten states: “Notwithstanding debates over EMF effects, property values, etc., the heart of the matter is the amount of electrical power available...” Well, kind of. The amount of electrical power available should be bound to the amount needed. If we can change what we need, we change what needs to be available.
Don’t be bamboozled into thinking a new substation is needed to make more power available. True, the existing transformers are going beyond capacity on rare occasions. But PSE has already stated it can add a transformer to an existing substation at Murden Cove or Winslow. Each of these substations has room for one more transformer. By using both substations we could get twice the capacity increase than the new substation proposal.
Building a new substation would require building a new run of transmission lines to get the high-voltage power to it. According to PSE, installing these transmission lines adds a cost of $4 million. These transmission lines also add other negative impacts that don’t currently exist. This is why EMF exposure, property value losses, loss of green money, loss of green space, reduction of rural character, etc., are very much at “the heart of the matter” when trying to “manage it in a way to have the least negative impact.”
How much more negative can the impacts get? Using the most expensive solution, which introduces the greatest harm, is not responsible behavior, Mr. Marten.
Someday our island might develop beyond the two extra transformers we can already accommodate. But considering the current environment, this is a distant threat. Meanwhile, technology is moving much faster than development and has taught us how to build new homes and retrofit existing ones to significantly reduce energy loads.
How much demand can we replace with conservation? Research shows over 30 percent.
Folks are working on ways to mitigate EMFs and even the need for high-voltage transmission lines altogether. Since EMFs are a global concern, its solution has a big market. Where there is demand, there will be innovation.
Bainbridge Island can be part of making a demand for the solution without sacrificing capacity and facing the dreaded brown outs or black outs. We can use existing infrastructure, if necessary, until there is a solution to the negative impacts of the transmission lines.
Energy costs will go up every time PSE needs to add new infrastructure to meet demand. Failing to conserve will cause all of us to pay higher rates. As Mr. Marten phrased it, “We can keep our head in the sand and try to hide from the problem or address it and manage it in a way as to have the least negative impact.” Personally, I don’t think we are hiding from the problem; I think we are hiding from the best solutions and headed toward the greatest negative impacts.
Residential energy consultant
RAiSE (Reliable and Safe Electricity