PSE: BI has asked for improved reliability

Puget Sound Energy says it is again looking at building a new transmission line on Bainbridge Island because residents have been asking for improved reliability.

Twice previously, BI residents have fought similar proposals.

Just last month BI experienced power outages, some of which were caused by a tree falling on the Winslow Tap line. If the “missing link” transmission line existed, the Winslow Substation could have remained in service. The backup line could have maintained service to some of the nearly 4,000 customers without having to find and fix the issue with the Winslow Tap.

In this latest effort, PSE convened a Community Sounding Board, a diverse group of stakeholders, to help explore possible routes for a transmission line, along with providing perspectives to understand the values and priorities of the community.

Rebuilding the Winslow Tap transmission line, which is already underway, will solve many of the problems, but nearly two-thirds of BI customers are at risk of a prolonged outage as they are served by either the Winslow or Murden Cove substations, which do not have backups. PSE says it needs a second power source, the “missing link,” to eliminate outages.

Rebuilding the Winslow Tap line includes replacing aging infrastructure, improving access and performing vegetation management. New poles and cross arms will reduce the possibility of equipment failure. In the case of an outage, improving access will allow crews to assess and repair damage faster, reducing outage durations and allow access for regular maintenance. Improving vegetation clearance in the utility corridor will reduce, but not eliminate, tree-related outages.

PSE also says though the transmission lines across Agate Pass have improved bringing power to BI, it does not do enough. PSE says it is proposing a 115kv transmission line to connect the Murden Cove and Winslow substations. Cost will depend on the route chosen.

Some on the island have inquired about an underground system. PSE works to balance safety and affordability. PSE first considers overhead transmission lines because of their reliability and affordability. Should the community be interested in putting a new transmission line underground, the local community must pay the cost difference. The city would make that final decision.

Comment on the proposed transmission line by Feb. 12 by emailing or by calling 1-888-878-8632. PSE will review feedback and develop route options. Those options will be shown to the Community Sounding Board before PSE will then ask for more feedback at a community workshop.