PSE plugs Hansville into generator

HANSVILLE — The infamous power generator that had Hansville residents in fits this time last year will be set up and tested at its new location today.

And aside from just turning it on for a trial run, Puget Sound Energy engineers have decided to leave the diesel generator at the site for the winter, rather than taking it back to its holding area in Kent.

The site is on Pope Resources’ property, located off Little Boston Road, just east of Cliffside Road, and about 4,000 feet west of Hansville Road. The nearest resident is about a mile away, PSE spokesman Tim Bader said.

The initial idea was to bring the generator to the Hansville area when needed, such as when extremely cold temperatures threaten to cause blackouts or the cable that feeds electricity from a substation in Port Gamble to Hansville is severed or damaged.

However, as PSE engineers created the mobilization plans for the semi-trailer sized unit, they realized it made more sense to keep it on site through the winter and have crews turn it on and off when needed.

Bader said the company plans to keep the generator there through December, however, it depends on how the winter weather fares. At the absolute latest, the generator will be removed next spring.

Bader said that during the peak times on an average day, electricity use in the Hansville community measures at 3 to 5 megawatts. A measurement of 11 megawatts or higher would warrant turning on the generator. Last January’s unusual cold spell, in which temperatures dipped as low as 23 degrees, was an example of how extreme temperatures would have to be to turn on the generator.

PSE officials came to this decision based on discussions with community members during the public meetings in 2003 that were held in an effort to find a reasonable location for the generator. One concern noted was that was if there was a blackout, how would the generator be able to make it up to the site in a timely manner. Now, If the generator is needed, crews won’t have this worry.

“It would be much better ready to go than stuck on a ferry or not there,” Bader said. “That’s something we want to avoid.”

Following the April announcement of the new location, there hasn’t been much negative feedback from the residents, Bader said.

“We’re just glad to see we’ve got this prepared and ready for this winter,” he said.

The diesel generator is a temporary solution to providing consistent power to the Hansville power grid as PSE engineers formulate a plan to add a second cable from the Port Gamble substation, through the waters of Gamble Bay to Hansville. They have identified landing sites on the Hansville side of Gamble Bay and are now looking at purchasing the properties before starting the permitting process.

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