Tag Archive | "Puget Sound Energy"


Power Blows on Island

Puget Sound Energy reports 223,899 customers are without power so far across the region as a large wind and rain storm presses north and east. Of those customers, more than 5,500 are on Bainbridge.

The outages seemed to be spread across the Island—north, central, and south—in mostly small pockets, likely caused by fallen branches and trees. The two major outages are in the North Madison area, near Roberts, and near Lynwood Center along Point White. There are also many—more than 50—small outages in the downtown core.

PSE reports they’ve opened six of their storm bases, allowing them to respond more quickly to localized restoration efforts. They say their Emergency Coordination Center has also been activated.

They warn that “Additional outages may occur, even as our field crews bring other customers back on line. High winds and debris on roadways is preventing our crews from safely assessing damage, which is the first key step before restoration work begins. At times, our crews may need to temporarily stop work if the weather conditions are too dangerous; safety is a top priority.”

PSE is attributing the widespread power outages to the “earlier-than-usual wind storm for this time of the year,” which means “most trees still have their leaves.” They add that many trees “have been stressed by the drought conditions, making them more susceptible to snapping or falling over in strong winds.” They report “receiving damage reports over a wide region.”

Emmy's by Rick HauptmanReader Rick Hauptman reports that “With power out all over the island, Emmy’s Veggie Hut rules them all! Since they cook with propane and take only cash, it’s business as usual at 5:30 p.m. Saturday!”

Related Stories

Photos courtesy of Shawn Carpenter and Rick Hauptman.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.7/5 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)

Posted in Business, Community, News, Slider, WeatherComments (0)


PSE’s Energy Efficiency Advice During Heat Wave

Puget Sound Energy has more than 1.1 million electricity customers. As temperatures climb into the 90s, the company is encouraging those many customers to be energy conscious.

PSE reports that excessive heat puts extra demands on the power grid but says our region uses more energy on cold winter days than we will during this heat wave. The company says the one-hour summer record for power usage was set on July 27, 2009. On that day, as temperatures reached into the 100s, 3,430 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity were used between 7 and 8 p.m. PSE customers’ all-time one-hour high for power usage was 4,906 MWh set on Dec. 15, 2008, during a major cold weather event.

Nevertheless, the company has “been seeing more power consumption during the summertime as customers add some form of air conditioning in their homes.” PSE estimates that about 11 percent of residential electric customers currently have AC. To combat the energy consumption creep, PSE offers the following advice: 

  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. For those with central air or air conditioning, PSE recommends no lower than 75 degrees. Customers can save up to 5 percent on their electric bill by taking that step.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the indoor temperature while you’re away.
  • Use fans to help circulate the air. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room, make sure to turn off the fan.
  • Make sure to close window blinds and curtains to block direct sunlight. In the evening, open windows for cross ventilation.
  • Switch out any conventional light bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs, which produce 70 percent less heat.
  • Run appliances such as dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers at night. A hot dishwasher sends heat throughout the house.
  • Run dishwashers only on full loads and use the “no heat” option for the drying cycle.
  • Consider cooking a later dinner or grilling outside to prevent any additional heat buildup.

Related Stories

Photo courtesy of cat’s_101.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Don't Miss This 3, Environment, Green Living, WeatherComments (0)


Do You Support Public Power? Island Power Wants to Know

In 2008 Jefferson County voted for public power. Five years later, they flipped on the switch. Now a group of people on Bainbridge is trying to follow in their footsteps and begin the long, complicated process of working toward a publicly owned power utility. Island Power, the entity behind the move, just took the first step, getting their Certificate of Incorporation as a nonprofit from the State.

Jane Lindley is the Co-Chair of Island Power. Lindley said the purpose of going public with power is to support “reliable, local, renewable energy” and offer “democratic control of our energy system.” One of her personal goals is to reduce our reliance on coal: “I want to send a message to our energy industry that we don’t want to rely so much on carbon. The parts per million are too high in our atmosphere.”

She said that NOAA just reported that in May we exceeded 403 ppm of CO2 at the Mauna Loa observation station. NASA researcher Dr. Charles Miller explains that “Current [atmospheric] CO2 values are more than 100 ppm higher than at any time in the last one million years (and maybe higher than any time in the last 25 million years). This new record represents an increase of 85 ppm in the 55 years since David Keeling began making measurements at Mauna Loa.”

Lindley argued that “Consumer-owned utilities . . . provide lower-cost, cleaner, and more reliable power than Puget Sound Energy (PSE).” She said that more than 50 other Washington communities have adopted public power including Ellensburg, Port Angeles, Centralia, and Seattle.

Lindley and Johnson

Lindley and Johnson with certificate of incorporation

The Process of Going Public

Lindley also explained how the public power process works. Because Bainbridge doesn’t have the power of initiative or referendum, Island Power can’t simply petition to put a measure on the ballot. Instead, the Council must vote to add a measure to the ballot.

But even a passed measure wouldn’t mean we would have public power on the Island. Councilmember Val Tollefson said he believes that a passed ballot measure would simply be giving “permission to the City to pursue public power if it appears to be the right thing to do. It can’t compel the City to adopt it.”

Lindley agreed that, if the Council added a ballot measure and if it passed, the City would merely have the right to run an electric utility. The vote would have to be followed by a “multi-year process of feasibility studies, discussions with the community, purchasing the infrastructure from PSE,” and “signing up with Bonneville Power to receive about 89 percent hydro, 11 percent nuclear, and a splash of market purchases.” Then, Lindley said, the City would finally be able to flip the switch.

Tollefson said “From the City Council standpoint we’re not devoting a lot of energy to thinking about it at this point. We’re waiting to see what kind of public support there is.”

For that reason, Island Power is gathering signatures to show support for the move and to encourage Council action. Their last meeting, held at the Grange on May 9, was attended by Councilmembers Anne Blair, Sarah Blossom, Michael Scott, Roger Townsend, and Tollefson as well as about 75 other people.

Several people spoke at the May 9th meeting, including Bob Titus, the former Special Projects Manager for the City of Ellensburg and Director for the City of Port Angeles; Lindley and Co-Chair Steve Johnson, who is the former executive director or WA PUD Association; and Scott Wilson and Marcus Perry from Bonneville Power.

Island Power meeting at the Grange

Island Power meeting at the Grange, May 9

Green Power v. Public Power and Costs

When asked to compare the City’s recent decision to buy 100 percent green power from PSE and going with public power, Tollefson said that the two things are “completely different. Green power from PSE is kind of a symbolic thing. I have a hard time translating that program into meaningful action on the ground.”

On that point, Lindley said that PSE is somewhat constrained by being required to offer the lowest-cost electricity. Coal still represents one of the least expensive sources. PSE shows that it currently gets 32 percent of its energy from hydro, 31 percent from coal, 28 percent from natural gas, 7 percent from wind, and 1 percent from nuclear.

When asked then how an Island public power agency could prevent our own costs from skyrocketing, Lindley said that Bonneville is offering tier-one pricing, their lowest, to any purchasers of the 250 megawatts they’ve set aside for public power entities. Currently, with other municipalities going public, that set-aside amount is down to 190 mw. Lindley said that Portland is considering going public with its power, which could deplete that remaining amount. Bainbridge currently would only need about 50 mw.

Lindley said if we could lock in at tier-one pricing, Bonneville would not be able to raise us to the next tier of pricing unless, for example, Bainbridge doubled in size and did nothing to curb energy usage. Lindley also said that we could backfill on our energy usage with locally supplied energy, such as from solar or wind.

When asked why a Bainbridge public power utility couldn’t buy its power from PSE and even exclusively from PSE’s green power program, Lindley wasn’t sure that it couldn’t. She said that Seattle City Light buys its power from all over. She thought the only barrier to Bainbridge doing that at first would be knowledge. Once we had experience and knew what we were doing, theoretically we could shop around for our power, she said, and one of our choices could be whether or not it was “green.”

Tollefson said that he finds public power “interesting” but is “not convinced one way or the other yet.” He said he expects “that it’s going to be popular with a lot of people on the Island, also for symbolic reasons.”

He said he is aware of some potential economic benefits to the Island with public power and some risks too with being “solely responsible for that infrastructure and managing it properly.” The Jefferson county experience “answers a lot of questions. It appears it is practical,” he said. “Their problems would be great teaching tools for us.”

You can read about the Jefferson County experiment in a Port Townsend Leader editorial.

To sign the Island Power petition, click here. Island Power will also be collecting signatures downtown on the Fourth of July.

Related Stories

Featured photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives. Photo of Lindley and Johnson by Marketplace Barista. Other photo courtesy of Island Power. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/5 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 5 votes)

Posted in Don't Miss This 5, Economy, Government, Green LivingComments (5)


PSE Rewards Local Sounders’ and Mariners’ Fans with Energy Upgrades

What do local sports have to do with energy efficiency? Not necessarily anything, but PSE wants to make a connection. This Sunday, May 31, as you head off on the ferry to see the Sounders pummel the New York Red Bulls or the Mariners give it to the Cleveland Indians, PSE reps clad in yellow will be looking to give you Golden Upgrade Tickets.

The tickets are your chance to win prizes ranging from LED light bulbs and water-saving showerheads to energy-efficient TVs and washer/dryer sets valued at over $2,000 each. You redeem your tickets at the PSE booths at the stadiums for prizes. Every ticket wins.

The Energy Upgrades campaign will continue through September at various events throughout PSE’s service area. At all the events, PSE will showcase and give customers a chance to win ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances from Whirlpool and LG Electronics, Kohler high-performance shower heads, and Greenlite™ LEDs.

Dennis Rominger, energy efficiency expert at PSE explained that that it’s all about increasing energy efficiency. As an example, he said, “LED bulbs from Greenlite™ use 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. The average household can save $150 a year in energy costs by replacing the 25 most frequently used lights in the home.”

Related Stories

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Von Arnim.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Business, Community, EnvironmentComments (0)

Puget Sound Energy Work Will Cause 305 Slowdowns

Port Madison Tap 115 kV is the name given to the Puget Sound Energy project that will be happening along 305 over the summer. Lane closures on 305 will largely happen at night between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. until about mid-June. There will also be daytime closures on Komedal Road after that.

The main power line that runs from the South Keyport Junction Substation to Foss Corner has one line, the Port Madison line, that taps off of it and feeds Bainbridge customers after crossing Agate Pass. The only other line serving Bainbridge Island comes directly from Foss Corner and also crosses at Agate Pass. The Port Madison line is reaching its capacity, meaning that during an outage or high power usage it might fail to deliver.

So PSE is rebuilding 6.7 miles of the existing line from Lemolo Shore Drive to the Port Madison substation with larger wire. Crews will also be replacing 58 wood poles with taller poles. In addition, they will replace approximately 3.5 miles of overhead distribution line with tree wire, a specially coated overhead wire strong enough to withstand a tree limb falling into the line.

Prot Madison TapLarger wires increase the likelihood that during any outage to one line the other line will be able to continue providing uninterrupted service. That’s because the larger wire is more reliable, explained PSE Project Manager Barry Lombard.

Lombard said that the work on the other side of the bridge has already begun on Suquamish Way. This week, workers will begin to turn their attention to 305, also on the other side of the bridge, and nighttime drivers can expect some delays, maybe for as long as two or three weeks.

Port Madison Tap Map Legend

The work on Bainbridge won’t begin until late July or early August, Lombard said, although it will be preceded by some tree trimming. He also said that one lane on 305 won’t need to be closed as most of the Bainbridge work will happen on Komedal. Workers will try to keep one lane open at all times but there may be occasions when the road will have to be closed and drivers will be routed around.

He said they hope to finish by the end of October.

To stay up to date on the project, text PMTAP to 555-888. That will subscribe you to text message alerts on your cell phone.

This project is distinct from the Agate Pass Bridge repair project happening this weekend. The work is intended to repair damage caused by a one-vehicle accident on May 5.

Related Stories

Photo courtesy of PSE.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in News, Popular 4, RoadsComments (0)

green power

Bainbridge Leads County by Choosing 100% Green Power

In a split decision at the April 28 meeting, the City Council decided that 100 percent of the electricity used to power City facilities will be offset by power generated from Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power Program. Bainbridge is the first city in the County to do so and only the third in the State.

The decision represents a big change over last year when the Council decided to purchase just 13 percent of its electricity from the Green Power Program, for about $3,000 per year. The new decision means the City will pay out about an additional $14,000, although the actual cost depends on energy usage. The City is trying to reduce that usage by replacing 80 percent of City-owned lightbulbs with LEDs.

Before the vote, Councilmember Michael Scott said, “I think it reflects the values of our community to support non-carbon-based energy sources,” and he said he was in favor of going with a 100 percent green power purchase. Councilmember Roger Townsend agreed but wondered if the cost could be paid for out of all the funds: the General Fund, Sewer, and the other funds using electricity.

Councilmember Val Tollefson, who also supported purchase of 100 percent green power, wanted it paid for out of the General Fund. He said he thought it was “a completely discretionary decision on our part, and I think it would be a complete miscarriage to impose this discretionary expenditure on customers of the utilities on the island.”

He said he was convinced that the reason the number of islanders who buy Green Power for their personal use is low is that it’s difficult to understand the money doesn’t just go to PSE and fall “into a black hole.” Tollefson said PSE gets audited annually to determine the money is being spent properly. He said another reason for low public participation is that “The City hasn’t led.”

Councilmember Steve Bonkowski said he agreed “you’re getting what you pay for” with the program, and he said he personally has signed up for the Green Power Program. But he cited low Island participation in the program as the reason he wouldn’t support the 100 percent purchase.

Tollefson then moved that the City purchase 100 percent green power and do so by using the General Fund. Scott seconded the motion but said in the future he’d like to see the purchase be supported across the funds.

Bonkowski and Councilmember Sarah Blossom were the two nay votes.

Puget Sound Energy explains on its website how its Green Power Program works. The City’s decision means that PSE will buy clean energy on the City’s behalf from independent producers of solar, biogas, or wind in our region, making “it possible for these energy innovators to secure funding, sustain their businesses, and create jobs.”

You can find out more about purchasing Green Power for your home or business by clicking here.

Related Stories

Photo by Derek Gavey.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Don't Miss This 2, Environment, GovernmentComments (1)


Bainbridge Celebrates Earth Day with Green Home Fair and New Community Center Solar Array

Tomorrow afternoon, April 22, the City of Bainbridge Island is celebrating a new solar installation at the Waterfront Park Community Center. The 5-kilowatt solar array has been funded in large part by a $20,000 grant from Puget Sound Energy.

The City of Bainbridge won the grant as part of the PSE 2013 Green Power Challenge. The Challenge put cities in friendly competition with each other to see if the cities could meet their goals of getting citizens to enroll in the Green Power Program. The program gives electric customers a way to guarantee some or all of the energy they use is matched with clean, renewable energy sources from the West. All of the renewable energy in PSE’s Green Power Program is generated by independent producers of renewable power; it’s separate from the wind resources owned and operated by PSE.

COBI set a goal of 1,250 Green Power Program converts. With Sustainable Bainbridge leading the effort, the goal was exceeded by nearly 100 people: 1,326 Bainbridge Island residents enrolled. Four other cities competed in the Challenge: Anacortes, Kirkland, Snoqualmie, and Tumwater. All cities met their individual goals, and Snoqualmie won the Challenge overall with the most signups, earning a $40,000 grant.

The average PSE residential customer can purchase 100 percent green power for approximately $10 to $12 a month based on their actual usage. Or they can buy a specific amount with a minimum purchase of $4 per month for 320 kilowatt hours (kWh). They can buy additional green power in increments of $2 for 160 kWh. Business customers can also participate at rates specific to their situations.

To celebrate the grant, COBI is inviting citizens to the Waterfront Park Community Center tomorrow, April 22, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for the official dedication of the solar panel. Mayor Anne Blair will speak briefly. PSE reps will also speak, and local Sierra Club representative Erika Shriner will talk about the importance of green power to our community.

The City will also be hosting a Green Home Fair at the Community Center. Representatives from A&R Solar, Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union, and Puget Sound Energy will be available to talk about energy efficiency and solar for your home. Industry experts will discuss solar incentives and financing available from the State of Washington. You will have the opportunity to sign up for Green Power and to participate in a raffle for LED light bulbs and other home energy-efficiency items.

City Manager Doug Schulze said about the City, “It’s our turn to lead. We believe that by taking an active role to make our facilities more sustainable, we can help encourage others in our community to do the same.”

The Waterfront Park Community Center is at 370 Brien Avenue SE. Click here for more information on Green Power.

Related Stories

Photo courtesy of COBI.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Don't Miss This 3, Environment, Green LivingComments (0)

12th Man flag by Andy Karmy

Small Power Outages All Over the Island

As of 9 a.m. this morning, January 18, Puget Sound Energy was reporting outages across their service area caused by “damaging winds.” At 8:30 a.m. there were still 234 outages affecting 29,000 customers. Kitsap County has been the hardest hit.

On Bainbridge, many of the current 42 outages are small, affecting a single customer here and there or small groups of a dozen or two. But a few are having a wider impact. An outage near Baker Hill includes about 400 customers. Nearly 200 customers in the Battle Point area are without power.

PSE reports crews have restored power to more than 62,000 customer so far. They promise to have crews “assessing damage and restoring customers as quickly as we can,” recognizing the importance to Seahawks fans of being able to watch the game today. At 9 a.m. they issued a message reading, “If you’re currently without power, we recommend making alternate plans for watching the Championship game today.”

Related Story

Uh Oh: Just Before Seahawks Game, NWS Predicts High Winds

Photo by Andy Karmy.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in New 1, News, WeatherComments (1)

Waterfront Community Center

Waterfront Community Center Goes Solar

Last week, the City began installing a solar panel system at the Waterfront Park Community Center. The system will include sixteen solar energy panels with the ability to produce up to 5,070 kilowatt hours of energy per year, the energy equivalent of burning 3,755 pounds of coal.

The project is partially funded through a Puget Sound Energy Green Power Program grant. In 2013, the City was awarded the $20,000 grant from Puget Sound Energy for its participation in the Take Charge Green Power Challenge. The challenge consisted of convincing 125 PSE electric customers on Bainbridge to enroll in PSE’s Green Power Program in 2013, to qualify the City for the grant to fund a community solar photovoltaic project. Sustainable Bainbridge led the Green Power Program charge, and the community succeeded in meeting the challenge, raising the number of Green Power Program enrollees from 1,125 to 1,250.

In February of this year, the City of Bainbridge also enrolled in the Green Power Program when the Bainbridge City Council approved Resolution 2014-01, authorizing the City to buy a limited amount of green power. Specifically, the City Council voted to designate $3,000 a year toward this effort, representing about a one-third greater commitment to green power than that made by Bainbridge citizens, only 15-20 percent of whom subscribed to it at the time. Installation of the panels is expected to continue through the end of the year, with work happening between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Related Stories

 Photo courtesy of COBI. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Community, EnvironmentComments (0)

Light bulb by Achi Raz

Storm Aftermath

Puget Sound Energy crews, in anticipation of last night’s (December 11) wind storm, positioned themselves at the ready in the areas most likely to be affected. The strategy seems to have paid off. This morning all Kitsap substations are back on line and there were only 21 “outage events” remaining as of 4:30 this morning.

On Bainbridge, out of the thousands of customers who were without power during the evening and night, only about a hundred are still in the dark.

Parts of downtown Poulsbo are still without power.

The Bainbridge Island Fire Department had a few calls for trees into wires and the Christmas truck malfunctioned, affecting the schedule.

Photo by Achi Raz.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in New 1, News, Slider, WeatherComments (1)

damaged home

Generator Cause of House Fire; Family Dog Likely Died in Blaze

by Julie Hall and Sarah Lane

[This story was updated at 9:57 a.m. November 17.]

The fire that incinerated a Port Madison home this morning began when the homeowner attempted to start his generator after an outage left about 4,000 Puget Sound Energy customers without power.

According to Bainbridge Fire Marshal Luke Carpenter, firefighters have searched the wreckage and found no evidence of the resident dog. Carpenter explained that the intensity of the fire would likely have destroyed any body remains.

The 1,300-square-foot wood house built in 1936 is entirely destroyed.

port madison house fireBIFD firefighters are collecting photographic evidence and will overhaul the site today to put out any remaining hotspots.

Kitsap Fire and Rescue from Suquamish was the first to arrive at the scene. Carpenter said that the BIFD would have been the first to get to the fire had Station 23 been staffed.

Despite requests from the BIFD, the north end of Bainbridge Island remains vulnerable to delayed response times due to a lack of funding to consistently staff the station on Phelps Road.

Should Fire Station 23 be staffed? Take our poll.

Related Stories

Photos courtesy of BIFD.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Posted in Don't Miss This 5, Emergencies, NewsComments (5)


Fallen Tree on Point White Leads to 9-Hour Outage: PSE Explains Why

Yesterday, August 4, sometime after 1 p.m. a large tree came down on Point White Road, knocking out power to over 300 residents of the area. By around 2 p.m., emergency responders had announced the closure of the road. One Point White resident contacted IB this morning to say her power didn’t come back on until 10:15 last night.

Bob Tulp, the Puget Sound Energy Electric First Response Supervisor for Kitsap, explained what took the repair crew so long. Tulp said the tree was so large the PSE team needed two and a half hours just to clear it. He said, “Vegetation is always a challenge on Bainbridge.” When the tree came down, it took four strands of wire with it, and those had to be removed from the vegetation before they could be reconnected to the lines above.

The PSE crew also had to make sure that private generators were isolated so that no power would feed back to the wires, putting the workers in peril. Tulp explained that, when people install “co-gens” (PSE jargon for private generators), they are supposed to notify the power company. At that point, the generator gets added to a map, enabling crewmembers to know where they are so the transformers can be isolated. But sometimes people bootleg the co-gens, so workers also listen for the familiar rumbling sound. Tulp said they make sure there is “no possible way for any induced voltage to come back on the line they’re working on.”

Once the transformers were isolated and the vegetation cleared, the crew began to reconnect the wires. By then, the light was fading for the day, which necessarily slowed down the work.

Another time lag, ironically enough, were the many questions from residents directed to the team. Tulp said the job’s foreman made a point of personally answering all questions to ensure that customers got the latest information. He said there were easily over 60 customer visits to the site. Since the foreman has to oversee everything on a job site, the interruptions added to the repair time.

Tulp said customers used to “bake pies for power crews and now they bring questions.” But, he said, this is a different world we live in: “We’ve become a community very in tune with what’s going on with technology. People need to know when to transfer perishables out of the freezer. When to hook up their generators. When to find a room at a hotel.” Tulp said customers ask “good, genuine questions.” For this reason, he said, PSE is weighing the possibility of putting a PR person on site for major repairs.

But that’s farther down the road. For now, the outage will serve as a good reminder to Islanders to prepare for the upcoming winter weather with drinking water, flashlights, and other emergency supplies, including a non-electric phone so they can call PSE for updates instead of stopping by to ask the crews on site.

Here’s the number to call when you see a downed power line: 1-888-225-5773. (Stay away from the line.)

Here’s the number to call to report an outage: 1-888-225-5773.

To see the outage map online (on your phone) click here.

Is your generator safe? Click here to get more information.

Related Stories

Photo by Marion Doss.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Community, Emergencies, Emergency Preparedness, News, Popular 3Comments (0)


After Some Bainbridge Input, State Commission Asks PSE to Reexamine Its Position on Colstrip Coal

In its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan released last May, Puget Sound Energy argued the long-term economic viability of relying primarily on power generated by its Colstrip Coal Plant in Montana, writing that “Colstrip reduces cost and market risk in most likely scenarios.” But just last week, February 6, the State’s Utilities and Transportation Commission said the “plan fails to answer questions about the future financial viability of the older Colstrip power plants in coming years.”

The Commission’s announcement came after some members of Coal-Free Bainbridge along with former City Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos testified at the UTC hearings about the Colstrip Plant, urging PSE to replace coal with renewable fuel sources such as wind and solar. Erika Shriner, a founding member of CFB, reported that Bainbridge Islanders made over 1,100 written comments to both the UTC and PSE in support of replacing coal with greener alternatives.

The UTC instructed PSE to do a better job exploring “potential cost impacts, including the likelihood of higher carbon costs and tougher federal environmental regulations, as well as projected natural gas prices and demand for electricity.” The UTC’s Chairman, David Danner encouraged “the company to continue its analysis, perhaps in the context of a more formal proceeding, in order to better answer the cost-effectiveness questions.”

In its plan, PSE reported that Colstrip saves “customers about $131 million per year. Put a different way, replacing Colstrip with another resource would result in approximately a 5 percent annual rate increase, apart from any other rate pressures.” State law requires PSE to update its plan every two years. The plan helps inform the UTC in its regulatory function.

The Colstrip power plant consists of four units, and PSE owns 50 percent of the two oldest ones, which were built in 1975-1976, and 25 percent of the two others. PSE obtains about 30 percent of its electric power from the Colstrip plants to provide power to 1.1 million customers, most of whom are in the Puget Sound region.

CFB’s main concern about PSE’s plan was Colstrip’s effect on the environment. Shriner said Colstrip “is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in our part of the country. It is also a source of other toxic pollutants, and it has been estimated that the plant is responsible for 31 premature deaths each year. It has polluted the groundwater of local residents for which it paid $25 million to settle a lawsuit in 2009 and other lawsuits are currently pending.”

But CFB’s arguments to the UTC weren’t just about the pollution produced by coal. Representatives also argued for the greater cost effectiveness of alternatives to coal. Co-Chair Wendy Jones said that, “given the dramatic drop in prices of wind and solar, coal simply doesn’t compute financially as an energy source. Additionally, the job potential in the clean energy sector for Washington residents is good news for workers and our state’s economy.”

Coal-Free Bainbridge is part of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which, Shriner said, has been instrumental in the retirement of 162 coal plants.

Related Stories:

Photo of Colstrip by David T. Hanson.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

Posted in Business, Community, Dont Miss This 4, Green LivingComments (11)

Geek Out Graphic: Bainbridge Power Grid Map

Here is a detailed map showing the Bainbridge Island power grid.

According to Puget Sound Energy media rep Ray Lane, during the outages on November 7, 2013, the affected areas were basically in the lower two-thirds of the Island: the four circuits WIN-12, 13, 15, and 16 and the blue circuits (including MUR-15).


Bainbridge power grid map

Bainbridge power grid map


Bainbridge power grid key

Bainbridge power grid key














Related Story


Images courtesy of PSE. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Posted in Community, Don't Miss This 3, NewsComments (1)

Kitsap County Courthouse

Power Outage Shuts Down Kitsap County Courthouse Until Noon

Puget Sound Energy hopes to have their work completed by noon today, August 19. But until the repairs on two major transformers are completed, a power outage in Port Orchard means the Kitsap County Courthouse, Administration Building, and Public Works Buildings will be closed.


Photo by Julie Hall.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Emergencies, News, SliderComments (0)

pse goal tracker

Bainbridge Gets a Butt-Kicking in City Race for Green Power

Do you subscribe for green power from Puget Sound Energy (PSE)? Doing so means PSE buys energy from renewable sources, like wind, biogas, and sun, on your behalf from independent producers in our region.

Bainbridge Island is currently competing with four other communities in the 2013 PSE Take Charge Green Power Challenge. So far Snoqualmie, Tumwater, and Kirkland are way ahead of Bainbridge, with Anacortes slightly behind us in the race to switch on green power.

Here is the status of the competition as of July 31, 2013:

take charge









If we meet our own community goal, we receive a $20,000 solar grant from PSE. If our city enrolls the highest percentage of new participants compared to the other four cities in our Green Power Challenge PSE will double that grant amount, plus we get bragging rights.

Homeowners can sign up for as little as $4 more a month, and the average business for about $20 more.

Mercer Island won the Green Challenge last year, and Olympia and Lacey won in 2011.

Learn how to sign up for Green Power from PSE.


Image courtesy of PSE.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Community, Green LivingComments (0)


Letter to the Editor: RePower Powers Down July 15

RePower Bainbridge would like to thank all of the Islanders who helped make our Final Boarding Call event a huge success. More than 400 people attended the recent conservation and sustainability-focused event at Woodward Middle School, demonstrating once again how committed Bainbridge Islanders are to creating a more sustainable Island.

At the event, Islanders connected with RePower Bainbridge’s allied contractors and energy experts to create energy efficiency plans for their homes before the July 15 final upgrade deadline. Many attendees made at least two energy upgrade measures to qualify for the $800 cash back incentive offered through RePower. Puget Sound Energy sold 1,794 energy-saving products at the event, which will save 983,055 pounds of carbon—the equivalent of taking 122 cars off the road for a year.

Thanks are also in order for the local vendors who attended, from trade ally contractors Puget Sound Energy and Kitsap Credit Union to guest speakers Jonathan Davis, Robert Moore and Charlie Wenzlau.

A communitywide program like RePower can’t be successful without local residents. Together we’ve made huge steps for energy conservation, with over 2,230 Island homes receiving Home Energy Check-Ups to date and over 518 energy efficiency improvements made.

Thank you to everyone who was part of the Final Boarding Call event. Although there’s only limited time remaining (all projects and paperwork must be complete by July 15), it’s not too late to cash in on RePower Rewards. Call 1-877-741-4340 to find out more.

—The RePower Crew

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Community, Letter to the EditorComments (0)

Coal-Free Bainbridge

Coal-Free Bainbridge & Sierra Club Challenge PSE

Erika Shriner doesn’t like Colstrip, Montana. She has nothing against the town, but she doesn’t care at all for the open pit strip mine and the coal-burning power plant of the same name. According to Puget Sound Energy, Colstrip currently provides 20 percent of the company’s power, mining and burning coal to generate electricity for PSE’s more than one million customers. 

Coal-Free Bainbridge

Shriner is one of the founding members of Coal-Free Bainbridge, which falls under the umbrella of Coal-Free Washington, which is part of Beyond Coal, a Sierra Club initiative. The goal of all of these organizations and sub-organizations is the same: to pressure power companies to stop relying so heavily on coal-generated power. Beyond Coal and its member groups are devoting their time to 100 days of action between the Presidential Inauguration and Earth Day.


An aerial photograph of Colstrip by David T. Hanson from his exhibition. Learn more at http://www.davidthanson.net/.

The Bainbridge group has been employing education tactics for about a year, including hosting information tables at the Fourth of July parade and at the Bluegrass Festival. For their 100 days of action, they are  focusing on Tuesday evening “living billboards” for ferry drive-off passengers. A living billboard is a montage of people with signs and costumes conveying their message quickly for people driving by. One of their best assets is Coal Man, a Deathlike, shrouded creature carrying a sign that reads, “I’m Lethal.”

Shriner said that it used to be rare for them to run into anyone who knew how involved PSE was with coal. But now they get friendly gestures of recognition from drivers, and she feels they are making progress in terms of raising awareness. She hopes to get “as many people as possible” to the Utility and Transportation Commission hearing in April. She explained that the UTC is primarily concerned with the cost of utilities and wonders whether they shouldn’t also have an obligation to look at all costs of coal.

The “True” Costs of Coal

She expects the same of PSE: “PSE has got to start reflecting the true cost of coal.” What she means by the true cost is the cost of lawsuits, health costs, the cost of air and water pollution, the cost of carbon emissions, and other costs associated with coal-related problems. She feels that coal looks cheap on paper because these costs are not usually factored into the equation. She said, “We’re the ones paying for it, so it’s critical customers voice their concern. In the not too distant future, the actual cost will be clear.”

The Sierra Club is sending a memo to PSE Board Chairman William Ayer to convey this message. Shriner said they sent a similar memo to CEO Kimberly Harris, but they never received a response. Inside Bainbridge did get a response, a swift one, from a spokesperson for PSE, Roger Thompson.

Thompson said that, with coal providing such a sizable percentage of total power supply, “simply shutting that off would create a significant reliability issue.” On the other hand, he agrees that finding ways to replace coal is the way to go: “Relying more on renewable energy is a goal we share wholeheartedly. Our record proves that. We operate three large windfarms in eastern Washington.” He explained that PSE is the Pacific Northwest’s largest utility producer of renewable energy and the second-largest utility generator of wind power in the United States.

Another reason Thompson doesn’t see PSE cutting off its reliance on coal any time soon is that, he said, “coal is the cheapest way to acquire energy.” But is it truly cheap? What are the extra costs Shriner is talking about?

Coal PlantBeyond Coal reports the following statistics about coal:

  • Coal pollution is responsible for 13,000 premature deaths every year, more than $100 billion in annual health costs, and over 200,000 asthma attacks annually.
  • Coal burning is responsible for nearly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions—the air pollution that is the main contributor to climate disruption.
  • Mining companies dump millions of tons of rubble and toxic waste into the streams and valleys below the mining sites.
  • In the United States, more than 40 percent of people live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Pollution from coal-fired power plants leads to smog (or ozone), a toxic compound and a dangerous irritant.
  • Burning coal releases toxic mercury that rains down into rivers and streams. This poison then accumulates in the food chain, eventually making its way into our bodies when we eat contaminated fish.
  • Every year, the nation’s coal plants produce 140 million tons of coal ash pollution, the toxic byproduct that is left over after the coal is burned.
  • Coal dust and diesel exhaust from coal trains and cargo ships can cause serious long-term health problems like lung and heart disease and cancer. The wide-ranging health dangers of coal dust include exposure to toxic heavy metals like mercury and increased rates of asthma, especially in children. Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) railroad estimates up to 500 pounds of coal can be lost in the form of dust from each rail car en route.

Colstrip in particular is a heavy offender. That’s because, as The Huffington Post reports, the Colstrip plant was grandfathered in under the Clean Air Act. That exempted it from having to comply with tougher pollution control standards unless and until the plant’s operator made upgrades, modernizing it.

Coal= deathWhen questioned about Shriner’s argument that it actually isn’t that cheap if you take into consideration all the costs, Thompson emphasized the company’s need “to provide our customers with safe, reliable energy,” for which there are currently no existing alternatives to Colstrip. He also explained that there are regulatory requirements in our state for energy providers to supply the cheapest energy to customers.In other words, these extra costs are not being taken into consideration on paper or in an official way by, say, state or federal government, and, therefore, coal still looks cheap to customers and regulators.
PSE’s Integrated Resources Plan
Thompson said that PSE will be coming out with its Integrated Resource Plan in May. They update and publish this guide every two years. It projects 20 years into the future, analyzing resources available to the company and considering potential company responses to potentially evolving scenarios. For example, he said the IRP might consider the cost of replacing Colstrip with renewable energy. Another scenario the IRP might consider, he said, is what the company might do if very strict emissions controls were imposed by the government. He cautioned that the IRP is “not a directive.” Instead, he said, it “anticipates need and growth and restraints.”
Coal-Free Bainbridge
Of course, Beyond Coal and other organizations working to achieve wider use of renewable energy might use the IRP as the basis for a conversation about how exactly PSE might change its policies, not necessarily in reaction to future scenarios but in response to the very real one of coal creating health and environmental problems. If the company is agile enough to anticipate problems and come up with solutions to them, why can’t it change the way it looks at the Colstrip scenario, seeing it as a problem, and solve it?

Thompson said, “It’s not a goal that we as a utility can reach overnight.” He added, “We will be acquiring more renewable energy in the future. We continue to assess our customers’ needs and resources on an ongoing basis.”

Of course, given the scenarios detailed by Beyond Coal and the current legislation pending against Colstrip (as many as seven lawsuits), unless the plant wins all of the suits, at the very least legal costs will soon be trickling down to customers, and this could change the perception that coal is the cheapest source of energy. In 2008, for example, the five corporations that then owned the Colstrip power plant agreed via a settlement to pay $25 million in response to a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by Montana residents. (The plant is now owned by six corporations, one of which is PSE.)

Green Power Program

In the meantime, as Coal-Free Bainbridge’s living billboards share information about the costs of coal and as PSE develops alternative sources of energy, Thompson points out that there is something very real customers can do right now to reduce their reliance on coal-supplied energy: “A majority of our customers want to see cleaner energy and we share that. The Green Power Program is a way to get there.”

Customers can sign up for the program right now and elect to pay a little more for their energy, thereby guaranteeing it will be provided by renewable sources. The PSE website explains: “When you make your contribution of $4 to $12 a month, PSE buys clean energy on your behalf from independent producers in our region. Your commitment to purchase green power makes it possible for these energy innovators to secure funding, sustain their businesses, and create jobs—making a brighter, cleaner future for everyone.” To sign up go here.

Photos by Coal-Free Bainbridge, David T. Hanson, Emilian Robert Vicol, and elibeck.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Business, Community, Green LivingComments (0)

New Incentives for Homeowners as RePower Powers Down

7:47 p.m.

RePower Bainbridge—the Island-based program promoting sustainability through energy assessments, cash-back incentives, energy-efficiency financing, and information about local, skilled contractors—is beginning its final phase of operation. With less than one year left in its mandate, RePower is offering some new incentives to attract the holdouts who have not yet taken advantage of the program’s offerings.

Since its inception in March of 2011, the Island has become dotted with hundreds of yard signs that read, “My Home Makes an Impact,” given to participants in the assessments. RePower has conducted more than 2,000 free home energy checkups, and more than 500 participants have completed the recommended energy-efficiency improvements. The completed improvements are calculated to have saved more than 3,000,000 kWh of electricity, enough to power 153 Island homes.

RePower Bainbridge Map showing completed assessment sites

RePower Bainbridge Map showing completed assessment sites.

Although these numbers are significant, RePower set its sights on 4,000 checkups and 2,000 completed improvements. And time is running out on the program’s funding. Before that happens, Islanders are encouraged to cash in on RePower’s incentives, which are now better than ever:

  • RePower Reward is a $400 cash incentive for homeowners who complete two or more qualifying improvements.
  • Homeowners can get a Referral Bonus of up to $200.
  • A $400 Whole House Air Sealing Incentive is now available.
  • Also available is a $400 RePower Home Performance with Energy Star® bonus.
  • RePower has coordinated with Kitsap County to increase the Home Energy Assessment with EPS incentive. This assessment uses diagnostic equipment to inspect a home and make suggestions for saving money and improving energy usage. The incentive is now $450, bringing the out-of-pocket cost down to approximately $50 to $150, depending on the size of the home.

To find out about all the available incentives click here. To find out which incentives may be applicable to your home, click here. Read more about RePower Bainbridge. Read our poll about the RePower energy audits. Read about RePower’s one-year anniversary.

RePower Bainbridge was implemented by the City of Bainbridge Island and its partners, Puget Sound Energy, Positive Energy, Kitsap Credit Union, Olympic Community College, Earth Advantage, Worksource Kitsap, and Conservation Services Group (CSG).

To learn more about RePower incentives or to schedule a free Home Energy Checkup or Home Energy Assessment with EPS, visit RePowerBainbridge.org or call 1-877-741-4340.

Photo by Sarah Lane.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in Community, Green LivingComments (2)

Treefall Closes Fletcher Bay Between Island Center and Bucklin Hill

UPDATE: This issue has been resolved.

The City of Bainbridge Island Public Works Department has shut down a portion of Fletcher Bay Road due to a tree fall today that took along some wires with it in the process. The treefall happened near Sutherland, somewhere between 7142 and 7188. A spokesperson for Public Works said that Puget Sound Energy had been notified and workers were expected to show up by 12:30. There was no estimate for when the road would reopen.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Posted in News, RoadsComments (1)

The Island School Jen Pells
Beach House at Pleasant Beach
Bay Hay and Feed