Editor’s note: Parts of Woodinville, Bothell and Kenmore were without power for much of Saturday, September 10. Reports from The Seattle Times of the cause were from downed trees.
Like our residents and businesses, the city of Kenmore continues to be concerned about chronic electrical power outages in our neighborhoods. What seems to be more than our share of outages has been an ongoing issue for many years, with the latest major outage this last weekend on a warm, sunny day. While we understand that other cities in northeast King County were also affected by Saturday’s outage, we are still not clear on exactly what caused the outage.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE), a for-profit corporation, is the electric utility provider for Kenmore as well as our neighboring cities of Bothell, Kirkland, and Woodinville. PSE is regulated by the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). The UTC regulates the rates and services of privately or investor owned utility and transportation companies. The UTC’s mission is to ensure that services are fairly priced, available, reliable and safe.
In recent years the city, with the help of our residents and businesses, has made this a priority and taken steps to more aggressively push for improved electric reliability in Kenmore. As a result, PSE has proposed future capital projects in Kenmore that will presumably improve electric reliability in some parts of the city (the notorious “Circuit 26” in the NW part of Kenmore, for example).
PSE’s proposed improvements are a step in the right direction; however, we are not convinced that they are enough to address Kenmore’s ongoing reliability problems. We have data that shows that eight of Kenmore’s 10 neighborhood circuits are performing below PSE’s average for reliability. What is PSE’s plan for addressing reliability city-wide, not just in several problem areas?
The city of Kenmore is currently in franchise negotiations with PSE. A “franchise,” in this case, is the non-exclusive right for a utility company to operate in the city’s right of way (city streets). As part of the franchise negotiations, the city has hired a third party expert to assess power reliability in Kenmore. This work will assist the city in the negotiations and also help us decide whether we should look into pursuing another electric utility provider.
In addition, PSE customers can also contact the UTC to voice their concerns. Fill out the Online Complaint Form, www.utc.wa.gov/consumers/Pages/ConsumerComplaintForm.aspx or call toll-free 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).