Seabeck Highway power line job is a rarity

The in basket: I was surprised by an alert Kitsap County put out last week, saying that Puget Sound Energy will be putting electric wires underground along quite a stretch of Seabeck Highway. It begins at Holly Road, where the county will be building a roundabout soon, and continues to Northlake Way.

“Work continues through June,” the notice said. “Traffic is restricted to one lane in the immediate vicinity of the work. Work begins this week and moves easterly as the project advances. Flaggers assist motorists through the work area. Work hours are Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Motorists should expect delays of 5-10 minutes in the immediate vicinity of the work.”

I was surprised because undergrounding power lines is costly and a rarity in such a rural area. I asked Puget Sound Energy what prompted it, if they do this more often than I think, and whether some private development is sharing in the cost.

The out basket: Akiko Oda of PSE says the company doesn’t do this often. “This is an unusual case,” she said. “PSE serves customers all the way out to the small community of Holly from the circuit that is getting the improvement work. The circuit originates at our substation at Northlake Way and is approximately 55 miles long and has a lot of exposure to storms. Installing the underground line will reduce the exposure to weather events.”

The work will put 2.75 miles of new underground 34.5kV feeder cables underground, she said. “We’ll also be moving five power poles to make room for the county’s roundabout project.

“This project is one of the jobs to improve safety and reliability,” she said. “It is not driven by a development.”

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