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December 2010
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CityLink Seattle

Streetlight Safety Inspections



Recently City Light has had reports of metal streetlight poles and metal “hand hole” covers (small underground vaults that hold streetlight electrical equipment that are covered by a metal groundplate) that have been energized.  In an effort to do everything we can to ensure public safety, City Light will inspect all 20,000 metal streetlight poles and 10,000 metal hand hole covers. 

After a report from a resident at the High Point housing development, City Light found an energized streetlight pole.  Crews corrected the problem — a frayed wire in the lamphead — and turned on the light.  It now is working properly.  

In addition, City Light checked all 170 similar metal streetlights at High Point and another 100 metal streetlight poles at GreenBridge housing development in King County where there were similar streetlights.  On Dec. 15, City Light crews inspected similar streetlights in New Holly.  No voltage was detected at any of these locations. 

On Dec. 16 crews will inspect Rainier Vista where there are similar streetlights.

Late Monday, Dec. 13, City Light received reports of three possible contact voltage situations in the Capitol Hill – Central area of Seattle.  Crews found the following: 

  • 13th and East Aloha East, significantly deteriorated wire had energized the pole with 60 to 80 volts.  The original cables were installed in the 1920s. 
  • Boren and Marion, 90 to 105 volts were present.  This pole is 30 to 40 years old. 
  •  23rd and East Union with 60 to 80 volts from a metal pole that is 30 to 40 years old.

There was no indication of the cause of voltage release at the last two metal streetlight poles.  We have de-energized the lights until repairs can be made.  No injuries or contacts with the poles were reported.

This afternoon, Dec. 15, a customer who heard the reports of energized streetlight poles, called us to let us know that her dog might have been shocked in the 8500 block of Greenwood Avenue North on Thanksgiving Day. The dog was not injured.  Crews were immediately dispatched to the area and did find an energized hand hole cover.  The plate and the pole were de-energized until a cause could be determined and repairs made.

City Light encourages customers to call us and let us know if they are concerned about a metal streetlight pole.  The number to call is: 

(206) 684-7056

 Things to be on the lookout for include:

  • A metal streetlight that is on during the day
  • A metal streetlight that flickers in the evening
  • A dog that shies away from a metal streetlight pole or metal groundcover

Our Power Lines blog will be updated whenever new information is available.