CHS: Plan for Denny Substation could mean new electrical towers running across CD


The old Greyhound facility it will someday replace started demolition last week. This week, the public process begins for the $201.5 million Denny Substation project that, starting with the planned launch of construction in 2015, will create an important new Seattle City Light facility to keep up with predicted surging electricity demand in the South Lake Union, Cascade, Denny Triangle, Uptown, Belltown, and First Hill neighborhoods.

Though the areas serviced by the new substation are not in the CD, the lines carrying the juice could be installed in the neighborhood, our sister site Capitol Hill Seattle reports.

A proposed “overhead” route for the project’s transmission line calls for a chain of large, possibly 100-foot-high towers running up Capitol Hill via Denny Way then down 14th Ave, E Spruce and 12th Ave S. Needless to say, a few neighbors already notified by mail about this week’s upcoming meetings are a little concerned.

Here is how the project’s “Determination of Significance” document describes the 115 kilovolt transmission line:

(Image of West Seattle transmission lines courtesy Bryan Comstock)

“The transmission line would involve installing massive towers in a largely residential area,” writes Bryan Comstock in an email sent to CHS about the project.

The 15th Ave resident also sent pictures of what he said are a similar transmission line and towers that run along Delridge Way in West Seattle so we could “get an idea of what these towers would look like.”

“That alternative is certainly out there,” says Michael Jerrett of Seattle City Light about Denny Substation transmission line alternative #3 — also known as “the overhead route.”

Jerrett says the city’s preferences, however, are the first two alternatives — underground routes through downtown connecting the future substation at Denny and Stewarts to the S. Massachusetts substation near I-90:

The alternatives will be one of the hotter topics at a series of public meetings being held this week to as part of the environmental review of the massive, little-talked about project. The closest session to Capitol Hill turf comes Thursday with a 4:30 to 7 PM “scoping meeting” held at Seattle University’s 12th at Marion Alumni & Admissions building. The format of the meetings will be “open house” from 4:30 to 6 PM with an hour of “oral comment.” You can also provide comments via email [email protected].



City Light Holding Three Public Meetings Next Week

SEATTLE – Seattle City Light is in the early stages of building its first new substation in 30 years. The environmental review process is underway and the scoping period began on Monday, Oct. 8. Scoping is the first step toward developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and provides the public an opportunity to comment on potential impacts and alternatives to be considered.

City Light is holding three SEPA public scoping meetings to provide information about the project and to gather comments. Public Meetings will be held from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. on:


Monday, October 22

Seattle City Hall

Bertha Landes Room

600 Fourth Ave.

Seattle, WA

Wednesday, October 24

Seattle BioMed

Discovery Rooms

307 Westlake Ave. N

Seattle, WA

Thursday, October 25

Seattle University

Alumni and Admission Building

12th Ave. & E. Marion St.

Seattle, WA

All meetings will feature the same content and will include an open house from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. and an oral comment period from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Written comments can be provided at any point during the meeting.

The scoping period ends at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The public is invited to submit comments at any time during this period. Send comments to:

  • [email protected] or
  • Seattle City Light, Environmental Affairs Division, ATTN: Kathleen G Fendt, P.O. Box 34023, Seattle WA 98124-4023

The new substation will help City Light serve customers in the South Lake Union, Cascade, Denny Triangle, Uptown, Belltown, and First Hill neighborhoods, as well as customers throughout City Light’s service area.

While City Light is hopeful it will succeed in achieving one of the two underground alternatives, there’s a daunting amount of process to get through before the decision will be final. The paths would take the transmission line through downtown and the ID/Chinatown areas meaning disruptive digging and construction over several months in the city’s core.

Construction time for the underground route is expected to take from 24 to 30 months. The overhead route would only need 12 to 18 months to complete. It’s also cheaper to create the overhead line. Jerrett said estimates for the overhead alternative come in between $30 and $35 million. The underground estimates fall between $45 to to $50 million of the Capital Improvement Program-powered $201.5 million project total.

Meanwhile, 14th Ave is the best route if the overhead alternative needs to be part of the plan. “14th is a logical overhead route due to the Right of Way layout for a large portion of 14th where there are wider sidewalks and/or planting strips,” Jerrett said. “Furthermore, overhead is not an option in Downtown Seattle due to building heights.”

With those “Right of Way” assets, Jerrett said there would be no need for any private property to be vacated along the 14th Ave route.

If for some reason 14th Ave won’t work as the overhead alternative, Jerrett said an alternate route has “yet to be determined.”

3 thoughts on “CHS: Plan for Denny Substation could mean new electrical towers running across CD

  1. I hope people provide comments on the scoping document demanding to know why these lines running through the residential neighborhoods of the CD have to be above ground?

    Why do we the people of the CD have to be subjugated to looking at the electrical lines in the air – for the sake of Amazon’s commercial activities?

    Why are the lines in residential neighborhoods being put in above ground – and the lines in the business district underground – are the people that occupy residential space in the CD not worthy of receiving the economic and environmental benefits of having the lines underground.

    This is just not acceptable. Hopefully the people of the CD, SHA (Yesler Terrace), and Seattle University can use their influence to modify this proposal so that we are not the ones being impacted negatively by this project.

  2. that the first two options outlined by Jerrett as the preferred are the first two in the text not the option 1 and option 2 on the map. This would transfer to the preferred the map options to be 2 and 3.

  3. From the homeless, the drug dealing, social services, and powerlines – Sally Bagshaw and the downtown crowd wants to move that stuff to the Containment District. The concept being that homelessness, mentally ill, drugs, and black people all belong together. Yet somehow Sally and crowd get the liberal do gooder label.