Hansville generator caught in power play

HANSVILLE — Following the cold weather snap and power outages that took place two weeks ago, Hansville residents and Puget Sound Energy officials will come together this week to discuss short-term and long-term solutions to keep the power on in the North End community.

Puget Sound Energy will meet with residents at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Hansville Community Center to discuss the area’s electricity situation.

PSE officials plan to update citizens on the agency’s latest efforts to improve power reliability in the area and talk about continuing the search for a site for a temporary, back-up generator. They will also give a brief seminar on energy efficiency and power-reduction techniques.

“We’re going to present some tools and programs they can use to save money and energy year-round,” said PSE spokesperson Tim Bader.

Officials discovered last year that the underwater cable from the Port Gamble substation to Hansville did not have as much capacity to accommodate the large loads of power used during cold weather as previously believed.

Utility company leaders have been working with residents since last spring to come up with short-term solutions in an attempt to prevent power outages.

One plan is to establish a site for a temporary generator that would be brought to the community on an as-needed basis. The generator would be installed when “excess demand overtaxes the present underwater cable,” wrote PSE community relations manager Don McDaniel in a recent letter to Hansville residents.

PSE tried to establish a site for a generator at four different locations within Hansville last year but residents opposed each one, claiming that noise, air and water pollution from the diesel generators were a concern.

Recently, the company approached Olympic Resource Management Company about a parcel of land north of Little Boston Road and 3,700 feet west of Hansville Road.

“I think we found a site that I believe will meet our needs and I believe will definitely meet the community’s needs,” Bader said.

The other solution is to implement an energy efficiency reduction campaign to help keep power levels from overloading the underwater cable during weather that is 20 degrees or colder.

During Thursday’s meeting, officials will also address the power outages that took place during the Jan. 4 and 5 cold snap. Bader said those power failures did not result from a cable failure.

“But one thing to keep in mind is that the loads were still high and we would have been at the level of talking about bringing in a generator,” Bader explained. “I think there are still a lot of questions regarding that outage, like, could have the generator prevented it.”

While officials will their plans to install a second underwater cable at the Port Gamble Substation within the next few years, PSE still wants to establish a backup plan.

“The primary issue is to get a generator site to accommodate for a generator,” Bader said. “Then we can assure that the power will be on and cable won’t overload.”

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