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Puget Sound Energy transmission and distribution reliability project

Crescent Valley area reliability projects

Fall 2014 project completion
  • In spring 2011, Puget Sound Energy met with customers in the Crescent Valley area to listen to concerns about electric service reliability and customer service issues. We developed a plan to improve electric system reliability in Crescent Valley, as well as the service our customers receive.
Project overview

Historically, the Crescent Valley area encountered a high percentage of tree-related power outages. PSE developed a package of system improvements aimed at either eliminating certain types of tree-caused outages or shortening the duration of the outage. Project details are below:

Electric system reliability improvement plan

Download full-size map
Project map
2011 projects
  • Installed new recloser at the north end of Uzzell Road (completed): For outages caused by temporary problems such as tree limbs that hit power lines and fall to the ground, a recloser restores power automatically in a matter of seconds. Previously, we had to send a service lineman to manually replace an open fuse - extending restoration times.
  • Installed a new switch on Nelson Road (completed): Adding this new equipment allows PSE to sectionalize our system and isolate damage to a smaller area. In doing so, we can minimize the number of customers affected by an outage.
  • Trimming trees (completed): PSE conducted a thorough review of the area in March 2011 and identified trees that could benefit from further trimming, as well as danger trees that were at risk of falling into our power lines. We completed all identified tree trimming and removal.
2012-14 projects
  • Installed new automated transmission switch on Banner Road (completed): An automated switch allows us to remotely restore power to the substation that serves 5,000 customers. This project alone could have significantly reduced outage times for at least five outages that occurred during the 2010-11 winter.
  • Installed new switches (completed): The power line that serves customers in Crescent Valley runs cross-country in a forested area between Banner Rd SE and SE Culver St.; the risk of tree-related outages is high and access for our crews is difficult. By adding the new switches, we are able to isolate this section of line in the event of an outage. We can then restore power to the customers on other parts of the distribution line while we work to make repairs to the cross-country line segment.
  • Installed tree wire at multiple locations: Tree wire is a specially coated overhead wire, which prevents an electric short in the line (and subsequent outage) in the event a tree limb falls into the line. Tree wire is very useful at preventing “branch-related” outages in heavily treed areas. However, it does not prevent outages caused by an entire tree falling into the line if it is heavy enough to cause poles and wires to break. We installed tree wire to existing distribution lines along:
    • Uzzell Road between Southeast Nelson Road and Crescent Valley Road Southeast (completed)
    • Crescent Valley Road Southeast between Uzzell Road and 150th Street Court Northwest (completed)
    • 160th Street Northwest between Crescent Valley Road Southeast and 14th Avenue Northwest (completed)
  • Installed additional wire: Previously, some of our existing distribution lines had one or two wires on a pole. By adding a third wire, PSE has more flexibility to operate the electric system while also improving reliability for our customers. Here is how it works: for everyday operations, one or two wires are adequate. However, when long outages occur during very cold temperatures, the system sometimes experiences a phenomenon called “cold load pickup.” Cold load pickup occurs after our linemen have made necessary repairs and restored power to our customers. Because customers are turning on electrical appliances and heaters in their homes at the same time, our lines can become overloaded and an additional – sometimes extended outage – occurs. Adding the additional wire will allow us to divide our customers’ energy load over three wires instead of one or two, decreasing the likelihood of cold load pickup in the area.


    Customer service improvement plan

    In response to feedback from area residents, we reviewed our customer service processes, training and tools, made some initial improvements to our customer service group, and developed a plan for long-term improvements. Initially, we:

    • hired and trained 50 additional call center agents for the upcoming storm season
    • provided additional customer service training for our current agents, with an emphasis on addressing the concerns outlined by the Crescent Valley community
    • addressed and corrected inaccurate information and messaging to customers
    • improved automated calls to customers so call system instructions are clearer and more user-friendly
    • created a storm information task force to focus on ways to provide more accurate restoration times to our customers

    We understand that we must look to long-term investments to improve our customer service. We are investing in new technologies and information tools such as geographic-based outage management and customer systems, as well as expanding our social media presence through tools such as Facebook, Twitter and phone-based applications. These tools will allow us to provide you with more relevant and timely information.

    Contact us

    For customer service, please call 1-888-225-5773.

    What is a transmission line?

    Transmission lines are key elements in the electrical distribution system. The lines safely transport high voltage electricity from power sources like dams and wind generating facilities to substations in local communities. Transmission normally takes place at voltages of 55 kV and higher.

    What is a distribution line?

    Distribution lines are critical links in the electrical system moving power from electrical substations through distribution transformers directly to homes or businesses. Unlike transmission lines, distribution lines typically carry less than 55 kV; PSE's distribution lines are typically 12.5 kV. Distribution lines can be installed both above and below ground.

    What is a substation?

    Substations are critical links in the electricity distribution system, containing utility circuit protection, voltage regulation, and equipment that steps down higher voltage to lower voltage. Before reaching homes and businesses, power is routed through our transmission system to a substation where it is changed to a lower voltage that can be utilized by customers.

    Download the information

    Download these PDF files for more detail on PSE's Crescent Valley area reliability projects.

    October 2012 postcard
    Project map (updated October 2012)
    November 2011 newsletter