Proposed generator site sparks more residents

HANSVILLE — It took more than last week’s cold snap before Puget Sound Energy discovered the need to temporarily install generators as backup power for the Hansville community.

Since the last community meeting on the subject in August, locations for the diesel generators have changed, sparking more debate over the necessity of the equipment.

At the summer generator demonstration, PSE proposed that the equipment be placed at the new Hansville Community Church on Hansville Road.

However, following further discussions between the church and PSE, the utility company decided the best site would be the Kitsap Public Utility District “Spring Site,” located just south of Gust Halvor Road, on Hansville Road.

The driveway to the site, which was presented as an option earlier this year, is about 200 feet long and enclosed in dense woods. Other sites included the North Kitsap Fire & Rescue Station and the PUD “Tank Farm,” both on Twin Spits Road. Those two locations were rejected because of their proximity to housing developments.

The PUD and PSE have signed a five-year easement on the property.

The contract allows PSE to use the site, build a driveway and a gate and operate the generator equipment when needed.

Hansville Community Church Pastor Greg Uvila said he was ready to make a deal with the utility company, but PSE decided to back out at the last minute primarily because of finances.

However, there are residents who live in the valley south of Hansville proper who have a problem with the new location.

No one in the community was aware of the change until resident Cinda Bakken and neighbors noticed work on the old logging road that leads to the spring site in mid-October. Bakken said about two dozen families that live in the area are primarily concerned about the noise, air and water pollution in the valley.

“This is an aquifer and we don’t know what diesel soot does to a watershed,” she said.

Bakken also said she also hasn’t heard a plan from PSE on how it will remedy future electricity needs that will be created by an growing Hansville population.

PSE project manager Ben Hodge said the generator site was relocated because of a variety of factors, including finances and the fact there is a new housing development will be built near the church.

While PSE did not inform residents of the change, Hodge said he had planned on working with the community after site had been established.

During the Nov. 12 demonstration, the generator, loaded in a semi-truck trailer, was not at full power but was at full volume, Hodge said.

Generators would be rented and brought up from Tukwila on an as-needed basis if the submersed cable in Gamble Bay that provides power to Hansville was damaged by an anchor or was dredged, or when cold weather threatens the area, he said. The equipment would not be installed for back up if the overhead lines were to break by a tree fall, as PSE repairs downed lines quickly, he said.

But even last week’s unusually cold temperatures didn’t merit the need for extra electricity back up, Hodge said.

It would have to be colder than last week for four days or more in order to require an emergency generator, he said.

As for the pollution concerns, Hodge said, “We are doing all we can to use the latest and best emissions control technology. It’s like noise — we sure can’t not do it but we can minimize it.”

PUD superintendent Bob Hunter said the water sources at the spring site haven’t been used for five years and potable water is actually pumped from Kingston.

Besides having an non-utilized site, the water agency has another interest in PSE’s efforts. If a site is not chosen and the electricity goes out, there would be about 80 homes in the area without water, which would create health issues, Hunter said.

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