As part of our solution to improve electric reliability on the island, we’re planning to build the new "missing link" transmission line between the Murden Cove and Winslow substations. This new transmission line is a critical component of PSE’s plan to improve electric service reliability, reducing the frequency and duration of power outages for customers on Bainbridge Island.
It’s our goal to understand community values and interests around the new transmission line, so we launched a community engagement process to gather input. To help reach that goal we’re asking for the community’s feedback on the route options under consideration.
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Electric reliability on Bainbridge Island needs to be improved – two-thirds of the island is served by two substations that don’t have backup transmission. The Winslow and Murden Cove substations are each served by single radial transmission lines, referred to as "taps". If the transmission line serving the substation goes out, then the substation and all customers served by that substation lose power.
As part of PSE's solution to improve reliability on the island, we’re planning to build the new "missing link" transmission line between the Winslow and Murden Cove substations to create a transmission loop. This means each substation will be connected to two transmission lines. If one line goes out, the other line can still feed the substation and provide power to customers.
This new transmission line is a critical component of PSE’s plan to improve electric service reliability, reducing the frequency and duration of power outages for customers on Bainbridge Island. More homes and businesses depend on PSE for reliable power than ever before and PSE’s investment in transmission infrastructure will make Bainbridge Island's electric grid more resilient and reduce the impact of any single outage by focusing on redundancy.
Bainbridge Island customers experience more frequent and longer outages than the average PSE customer, and nearly half of those outage minutes are due to issues with the transmission system. Some specific challenges to reliability include:
- Trees: Bainbridge transmission lines are heavily exposed to trees, and 64% of outages are caused by trees.
- Radial transmission lines: Nearly two-thirds of Bainbridge customers are at risk of a prolonged outage because their area is served by a substation – either Winslow or Murden Cove substation – fed by a single transmission line with no back-up.
Why do my lights go out so often?
The following is an accessible desciption of the above timeline. The Murden Cove – Winslow Transmission Line Project launched in late 2019. Public outreach for the project began with the project launch and will continue until the project is completed. The routing process for the Murden Cove – Transmission Line began in late 2019 and will be completed in mid-2021 due to schedule impacts from COVID-19. At the end of the routing process, PSE will select a preferred route for the new transmission line. Transmission line fieldwork and engineering began in mid-2020 and will continue through mid-2023. Fieldwork and engineering for substation upgrades will begin in mid-2021 and will continue through early 2024. Real Estate coordination with property owners and the City of Bainbridge Island will begin in mid-2021 and will continue through mid-2023. The project’s permitting will begin in early 2022 and will end in early 2024. Permits are tentatively planned to be issued in early 2024. Construction for the Murden Cove – Winslow Transmission Line will start after the permits have been issued in early 2024 and is expected to be completed between 2025 and 2026. Substation upgrades for the new transmission line connection will occur during the warm months of 2024, 2025, and 2026. Restoration work and mitigation work for the transmission line is planned to begin in early 2024 and will continue until the project is in service. Once substation upgrades are complete, the new transmission line can be energized and put in service, tentatively planned for 2025 or 2026. The project timeline is subject to change with some project phases and milestones dependent on outside agencies’ decisions and construction windows. Delays will push out the project’s completion.
Where are we now?
PSE launched the Murden Cove – Winslow "Missing Link" Project and began engaging the Bainbridge Island community in late 2019. We’re nearing the end of the routing phase and expected to select a preferred route in fall 2021. We expect the new transmission line to be in-service in 2025/2026. The project timeline is subject to change and will be kept up-to-date as the project continues.
It’s our goal to understand community values and interests around the new transmission line, so we’re engaging the community to gather input and feedback.
There are many ways you can be involved, including viewing the Community Sounding Board (CSB) meetings, attending community workshops, and by provide input and feedback via comment form 24/7, as well as by email, or phone.
PSE is now analyzing submitted feedback and working towards identifying a preferred route for the Murden Cove – Winslow Transmission Line Project, expected to be shared with the Bainbridge Island Community in fall 2021.
The next opportunity to engage with the project will be at the electric and magnetic fields information session, planned for September 29, 2021 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.. Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive important project updates.
Transmission Line Routing Community Engagement Process
Community Sounding Board
We convened the CSB to help inform the routing process for the new “missing link” transmission line between the Winslow and Murden Cove substations. The 18-member CSB will individually provide input and feedback on routing criteria, route segments, route options and other project related topics identified by PSE during the transmission line routing process. Members were selected from a pool of applicants and represent a variety of geographic, organizational, and individual interests on Bainbridge Island from inside and outside the project study area.
The next meeting, CSB Meeting #6, is expected to be held in fall 2021 – subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive important project updates about upcoming CSB meetings.
- CSB Membership Roster (updated June 29, 2021)
- CSB Meet & Greet - April 27, 2020
- CSB Meeting 1 – May 14, 2020
- CSB Meeting 2 - May 21, 2020
- CSB Meeting 3 - June 8 , 2020
- CSB Info Session 1 - August 6, 2020
- CSB Info Session 2 - September 17, 2020
- CSB Meeting 4 - October 12, 2020
- CSB Update Meeting - January 11, 2021
- CSB Meeting 5 - March 31, 2021
The CSB has provided valuable information that has informed the project so far, including:
- CSB members suggested that the project study area be expanded east to include Ferncliff Avenue Northeast to to allow for additional potential segment opportunities.
- CSB members brought imporant attention to critical helipad operations at Fire Station 21 at the corner of NE New Brooklyn Road and Madison Avenue N. PSE is looking into what this could mean for a transmission line in the area.
For additional details on feedback the CSB has provided on the study area and proposed route segments,from previous CSB meetings and info sessions held in 2020.
PSE met with the CSB on Oct. 12, 2020 to gather feedback on PSE’s potential route segments for the new transmission line. PSE received specific suggestions from several CSB members for additional segments to consider:
- Consider following Westerly Lane NE as a shortcut to connect Segments 6 and 3 to avoid Category II wetlands near the Fletcher Bay-High School Road intersection. PSE recently learned from the City of Bainbridge Island that existing city code prohibits new primary utilities from being built through wetlands classified as Category I or Category II.
- If utilizing Segment 11 along State Route 305, consider cutting through Sakai Park to connect to segments along High School Road faster. CSB members noted that this segment could face other challenges.
- Consider reconfiguring a southern portion of the existing Winslow Tap transmission line corridor to allow additional route segments to be considered for the “missing link” transmission line. Winslow Tap is the existing transmission line that connects the Port Madison substation to the Winslow substation and is located along Eagle Harbor Drive NE and New Brooklyn Road NE before reaching Winslow Substation.
PSE committed to reviewing these route segments to determine their feasibility and practicality, and whether to carry them further into the public process. After consideration, PSE determined the suggested route segments did not bring sufficient benefit in reaching the project objective to consider them further.
PSE hosted two workshops where Bainbridge Island community members could provide feedback to inform the routing process. The first workshop held virtually on Jan. 21, 2021 introduced the route segments under consideration and invited initial community impressions and feedback on these segments. Following the first workshop, PSE held a feedback period between Jan. 22 and Feb. 12 to continue collecting community input on route segments and heard feedback from a variety of community members. Feedback was collected through responses to an online interactive Segment Explorer tool, emails, voice messages, online comment forms, and mailed letters. A summary of themes PSE heard during the first feedback period is available in our community workshop materials below.
The second workshop held virtually on May 3 introduced the route options under consideration and provided an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on these potential routes. Between May 4 and June 2, PSE continued collecting feedback on route options through an online interactive Route Explorer tool, email, voice message, and online comment form. PSE will share a summary of themes PSE heard during the second feedback period.
- Online Community Workshop - January 21, 2021
- Online Community Workshop - May 3, 2021
In response to community interest shared during feedback periods for the “missing link” transmission line project, PSE will hold two information sessions for the community. One will focus on underground transmission lines and the other on electromagnetic fields (EMF).
The first information session on underground transmission lines was held on August 16, 2021. Information provided at the session included the benefits, challenges, and processes involved with underground transmission lines. Attendees were able to submit questions to a panel that included an independent underground transmission line expert and representatives from PSE.
The second information session on EMF is planned for September 29, 2021 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.. Attendees will be able to submit questions to a panel that includes an independent, board-certified health physicist and representatives from PSE.
- Underground transmission lines – August 16, 2021
Yes, the “missing link” transmission line is a critical a critical piece of the puzzle to improve reliability on Bainbridge Island. Looking at past data and assuming the new transmission line had been in place, there could have been 60% less substation outages between 2018 and 2020. Between 2013 and 2020, our experts estimate the “missing link” transmission line could have reduced customer minutes of interruption for Bainbridge Island by nearly 40% per year on average.
The new transmission line will connect Murden Cove and Winslow substations which currently are each served by single radial transmission lines, referred to as "taps". If the transmission line serving the substation goes out, then the substation and all customers served by that substation lose power. Connecting the substations with the “missing link” would create a transmission loop. If one line goes out, the other can still feed the substation and provide power to customers. Combined with the other components of the Bainbridge Island reliability solutions package, it will improve reliability of the electric service on the island.
Bainbridge Island customers experience more frequent and longer outages than the average PSE customer, and nearly half of those outage minutes are due to issues with the transmission system and lack of redundancy. Challenges to reliability include:
- Trees: The combination of high winds, storms and tall trees mean trees are the #1 cause of outages on the island. Bainbridge transmission lines are heavily exposed to trees and 64% of outages are caused by trees.
- Radial transmission lines: Nearly two-thirds of Bainbridge customers are at risk of a prolonged outage. This is because their area is served by a substation – either Winslow or Murden Cove substation – that’s fed by a single transmission line with no back-up.
- Customers served by the Winslow substation have the worst reliability on the island, followed by customers served by the Murden Cove substation.
- Nearly 70 percent of transmission customer minutes of service interruptions were from the Winslow Tap transmission line that feeds the Winslow substation.
- Geography: The geography of an island also poses unique challenges for electric reliability, mainly the lack of neighboring infrastructure to serve as backup.
Electric reliability on Bainbridge Island needs to be improved. PSE’s customers have asked PSE to find solutions that improve reliability, meet this community’s growing energy needs, and align with the community’s values. It’s PSE's goal to understand community values and interests around the new transmission line, so we’re engaging the community to gather input and feedback. To help reach that goal we’re asking for the community’s feedback on the route segments under consideration.
PSE is investing in transmission infrastructure that will make Bainbridge Island's electric grid more resilient and reduce the impact of any single transmission outage by focusing on redundancy. We'll build the "missing link" transmission line between the Murden Cove and Winslow substations to create a transmission "loop." This means each substation will be connected to two transmission lines so that if one line goes out, the other line can still feed the substation and provide power to customers. This will significantly reduce the frequency and duration of power outages for Bainbridge Island customers.
The team currently anticipates that the line will be primarily composed of round wood transmission poles that are typically 60 to 75 feet above ground. These poles will be similar to other 115kv lines already on the island.
The photo on the right shows an existing transmission pole that includes a distribution line on the same pole. Transmission lines bring power to the substations from the generation source and distribution lines distribute the power from the substations to homes and businesses.
These are examples of construction for a typical vertical configuration 115kV transmission line using wood poles. A new roadside 115kV transmission line could look similar, though other vertical configurations or pole types are possible and may be desirable.
We will develop and share representative photo simulations of our proposed project once we have progressed into the design and permitting phases.
Trees and vegetation are an important part of the rural character of Bainbridge Island and valued by the community, including PSE. PSE is currently engaging with the community to understand the values of the community and discuss route option trade-offs to inform a preferred route. Because project development is in the early stages and we don’t have a preferred route or know the exact vegetation impacts, we’re committed to working with landowners, the City and other stakeholders to minimize vegetation impacts and to fully mitigate for these impacts.
PSE’s goal is to remove and trim as few trees as possible while building and maintaining a safe and reliable transmission line to serve the community.
PSE looked at environmental and economic inequalities – such as impacts to air or water quality, access to green space, or increased in costs of housing or transportation – using environmental justice and equity databases maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Washington Department of Health (DOH). We used these sources to review whether transmission line construction and operation would contribute to environmental and economic inequities.
In looking at the Bainbridge data in these databases, as well as the types of impacts contributing to environmental justice inequities, we determined that new transmission lines, like the “missing link”, do not contribute adversely to conditions contributing to environmental inequities as analyzed in environmental justice and equity databases.
We have also reviewed and considered questions relating to equity on Bainbridge Island generated in the “missing link” outreach process. We know that inclusion and education are key components of equity and environmental justice efforts. To that end:
- The project team is reviewing third party equity impact assessment guides as a way to expand understanding and identify potential community engagement gaps.
- The project team is coordinating additional community meetings in an effort to continue to ensure that all voices are heard in the siting process.
- The community engagement team will continue their efforts to inform and educate individual customers and community organizations on the island and ask their assistance in sharing information with the people they serve.
PSE is on a journey to be a more inclusive organization, and that includes gaining the perspectives of historically underserved customers and communities to inform our decisions and investments. PSE has been, and continues to be, committed to hearing feedback from the community to inform our route siting process.
Yes, PSE can build transmission lines underground if the location is feasible. However, it is up to the community to decide whether to invest in it. State regulations require PSE to first consider building overhead transmission lines because of their combination of reliability and affordability, both of which are important to our customers.
When a new line is constructed overhead, project costs are distributed evenly between PSE’s 1.1 million customers. Undergrounding is an option, but under these regulations underground transmission lines are considered a "local option" and the local community must pay the cost difference between overhead and underground lines. Most communities decide not to invest in undergrounding transmission lines because they have other investment priorities.
For more information, see our transmission undergrounding fact sheet.
PSE also held a joint information session on electromagnetic fields and underground transmission lines on September 17, 2020. See our Info Session 2 presentation slides and Info Session 2 summary to learn more about electromagnetic fields and undergrounding.
Electric and magnetic fields, or EMF, are found wherever there is electricity – in household wiring, electrical appliances, computers or power lines.
At PSE, safety is always our top priority. We rely on the findings of reputable, national and international scientific and public health organizations and agencies that have reviewed the research on EMF. Over the past 45 years, there have been many scientific studies conducted to determine if EMF has any effect on human health. To date, extensive reviews and research conducted by leading public health agencies – such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) (one of the U.S. National Institutes of Health) – have not established that power frequency EMF cause any adverse effects in humans or animals.
We are committed to keeping our customers informed. We understand that local residents may still wish to learn more. In 2020, PSE hosted an information session on EMF and undergrounding you may find useful. The presentation and summary notes are available on our website. In response to community interest, PSE is hosting an information session in September 2021.
For more details about EMF studies, exposure limits and PSE’s approach to EMF, visit pse.com/pages/electromagnetic-fields.
PSE will use feedback throughout the routing process to better understand community values and inform the preferred route selection – because routing a transmission line requires PSE to decision on tradeoffs between different elements. Safety and reliability will always remain PSE’s core priorities when routing a transmission line. The Community Sounding Board will review the preferred route developed by PSE at their next meeting and share their feedback. PSE will work to incorporate feedback where feasible and make a decision on the preferred route, to be announced later in 2021.
Building a new transmission line on an island poses unique challenges and there are no route segments that completely avoid community impacts. PSE is committed to engaging the community to better understand and address these challenges. Thank you for sharing your feedback!
The next opportunity to interact with the project is at the electromagnetic field (EMF) information session where attendees can submit questions to a panel that includes an independent EMF expert and representatives from PSE.
PSE plans to hold the sixth and final CSB meeting in fall 2021. All CSB meetings are open to the public to observe, and there will be a brief opportunity for public comment at each meeting. CSB meetings are held virtually while social distancing recommendations are still in place. The meeting access link and agenda will be posted on this website one week prior to the event. Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive important project updates about upcoming CSB meetings and community workshops.
Thank you for visiting this site to learn more about PSE’s effort to improve electric reliability on Bainbridge Island.
- PSE is currently reviewing all feedback shared during the second feedback period and working towards identifying a preferred route.
- The Community Sounding Board will review the preferred route at their next meeting and share their feedback with PSE.
- PSE will make a preferred route decision later this year.
- PSE anticipates having the transmission line loop in-service by 2025/2026.
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Thank you for learning about the Murden Cove – Winslow "Missing Link" Transmission Line Project! If you have a question about the project or would like to comment on any of the information presented on this site, please use the comment form below. We’ll respond as soon as we’re able to answer your specific inquiry.