Lake Hills Phantom Lake FAQs
What is the Lake Hills-Phantom Lake 115 kV transmission line project?
It will build a new 115 kV transmission line between the Lake Hills and Phantom Lake substations in East Bellevue. This project will improve electric service reliability for more than 12,000 customers in the Crossroads, Robinswood, Lake Hills, Eastgate and Phantom Lake neighborhoods.
Why do we need this project?
To improve reliability by making sure there is a backup plan in case one transmission line goes down.
PSE's Lake Hills, College and Phantom Lake substations are served radially, which means that each substation only has one transmission line connecting it to the power grid. If the single radial line serving a substation goes offline for any reason, all customers served by that substation lose power.
The Lake Hills-Phantom Lake 115 kV transmission line project will help solve these problems by building a new transmission line to connect the three substations. The new transmission line will create a “loop”, which means each substation will be connected to the power grid by two transmission lines. If one line goes out, the other line will still feed power to the substation and keep the lights on for customers. Creating redundancy like this is a critical part of keeping our electric system healthy and ensuring our customers have reliable power. It’s how PSE plans the overall system. The area is one of the few remaining in Bellevue lacking the necessary redundancy.
What would happen if the project is not built?
The electric system in East Bellevue will continue to experience reliability problems, and the affected neighborhoods will continue to have an increased likelihood of outages.
PSE’s mandate is to provide reliable power to our customers. We are building this transmission line to address the existing reliability problems, and as part of a plan to address the Eastside’s growing energy needs to ensure we can continue to provide East Bellevue customers with reliable power for years to come.
Why was this solution and route selected?
PSE has been working with the community and the City of Bellevue since 2007 to solve the system reliability issue while attempting to minimize impacts to the surrounding areas.
- Fewer park impacts, like loss of vegetation and visual access
- Greater opportunities for mitigation
- Fewer infrastructure impacts
- A smaller number of residential and commercial properties directly affected by the transmission line
We are also coordinating with the City to ensure this project will not conflict with a public improvement project planned for SE 16th St. We plan to postpone construction of the line along SE 16th St so we can collaborate with the City on design and construction timeframes.
How will trees be affected by this project?
Certain trees along the project route will need to be trimmed or removed in order to meet PSE vegetation standards for the new transmission line. As part of the mitigation for this project, nearly $900,000 of new trees and vegetation will be planted and maintained along the project route. These new trees and bushes will be compatible with the new transmission line.
In order to ensure safe, reliable power for our customers, local, regional and state laws require PSE to trim or remove trees that present a risk to the operation and maintenance of our power lines. Trees are one of the top causes of power outages in the northwest – trees or limbs can fall into our power lines or grow into the lines. Not only are these service interruptions inconvenient for customers, they can also threaten public safety. Our goal is to ensure the safety of the communities we work in and minimize tree-related power outages.
How does PSE minimize impacts to trees?
Were other routes and reliability options considered for this project?
PSE initially considered multiple route options for the new Lake Hills-Phantom Lake transmission line, including:
- Routing the east-west portion of the route along Main St, NE 4th St or NE 6th St
- Routing the north-south portion along 156th Ave SE or 164th Ave SE
- Undergrounding the new transmission line
The final route along NE 8th St and 148th Ave SE was selected because it minimizes impacts to trees, residents, and businesses.
How has the public been involved?
The public has been an integral part of the planning and route selection process. Since 2007, we’ve held nine public meetings on project plans, route selection and possible impacts. At the meetings, both PSE and City of Bellevue staff listened to the community’s feedback about the project and addressed questions posed by attendees.
How will PSE minimize community impacts from the project?
The project route was selected using criteria intended to minimize impacts to the community and take into account concerns from the public regarding vegetation, visual, residential, and commercial impacts. In addition to this, the City of Bellevue sets permit conditions that are intended to minimize construction impacts for neighbors. PSE will develop the construction plan based on these conditions, including limiting construction during heavy travel times along NE 8th St and 148th Ave SE to reduce traffic impacts.
Has PSE been issued the permit needed to construct the project?
The Bellevue City Council approved the conditional use permit (CUP) for the Lake Hills-Phantom Lake project in May 2015 by a six to one vote.
After the Bellevue City Council approved the CUP, the permit was reviewed by the East Bellevue Community Council (EBCC), which has authority over certain land use decisions in part of the area where the project is routed. The EBCC rejected the permit in June 2015. To protect customers from the potential impacts that could occur if this project is not built, PSE commenced an action in King County Superior Court requesting that the court overturn the EBCC’s decision.
Judge Downing of the King County Superior Court upheld the EBCC’s decision in December 2015. PSE appealed, and in January 2017, the Washington State Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision, ruling in PSE’s favor. The EBCC appealed this decision to the Washington State Supreme Court, which declined to take the case. This left standing the Washington State Court of Appeals decision that ruled in PSE’s favor. PSE is currently pursuing construction permits with the City of Bellevue.
What aspects of the project is PSE proceeding with at this time?
PSE is moving forward with the construction permitting process and easement acquisition for the Lake Hills-Phantom Lake project and will continue to provide project updates on the Lake Hills-Phantom Lake web page as the project continues. At this point, construction is slated to begin in 2018.
Will PSE have to acquire new easements for the project?
Yes, PSE will need to acquire easements from property owners along the project route. An easement is a right to use land owned by someone else for a limited purpose. When use of private property is required for the operation and maintenance of PSE facilities, PSE compensates property owners for the value of the necessary easements.
PSE previously contacted property owners along the project route prior to the legal proceedings with the CUP process. In October 2017, we held two public meetings to inform property owners about the need for the project and the easement acquisition process.