Crews worked through the night to restore power to approximately 12,900 customers. While crews worked to restore power to an earlier outage, four circuit breakers relayed offline causing a cascading effect and a small substation fire. The sequence of events led to a larger outage. Affected areas in parts of Ballard, Magnolia, and Queen Anne were returned to power by 6:15 a.m. this morning, Saturday, January 20. The cause of the original outage is still being investigated.
Seattle City Light crews are working to restore power to about 12,900 customers in parts of Ballard, Magnolia, and Queen Anne. While working to restore power to an earlier outage, four circuit breakers relayed offline causing a cascading effect and a larger outage. The Seattle Fire Department is responding to a small fire that resulted in the Broad Street Substation. An early estimate for restoration is later this morning, Saturday, January 20. Customers can get updated outage information at www.seattle.gov/light/sysstat.
It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.
While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.
City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.
A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!
The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning for the Seattle area, and it will remain in effect until 9 p.m. tonight. Seattle City Light is readying supplementary crews and resources in order to respond to potential outages, and you should be ready too. While wind-related outages are not a sure thing this evening, we want you to be prepared in case they do occur.
If you experience an outage, please report it by calling (206) 684-3000. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Here are some tips to stay safe and warm during an outage:
- Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000. You can also report downed power lines by sharing it through City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
- Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.
- Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.
- Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members in case you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit: www.takewinterbystorm.org.
- Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.
- Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits are computers and televisions.
- Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.
- Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged and you have a phone charger ready.
- Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.
- Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
- Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.
- Report the Outage – If you want to report a power outage, please contact the Seattle City Light Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Please remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem.
Seattle City Light crews plan to enhance the reliability of the electrical system by pulling in new fiber-optic cables across Interstate 405 approximately two miles southeast of Alderwood Mall. To ensure safe work operations and passage for motorists, crews must intermittently conduct rolling slowdowns of traffic in both directions of I-405.
The work will take place at night beginning Monday, Sept. 18. Traffic will be intercepted and escorted at slow speeds for up to 15 minutes between just southeast of the I-5/I-405 interchange and NE 195th Street as crews install the new fiber-optic cable overhead across the highway. Traffic will return to normal speeds once past the work area. See the map below for details on the differing locations for north and southbound rolling slowdowns. Drivers should expect delays and consider using alternate routes during construction.
Rolling slowdown details:
Occurring nightly from 11:59 p.m. to 4 a.m. beginning Monday, Sept. 18 through the morning of Friday, Sept. 22:
- Washington State Patrol troopers and contracted crews will intermittently intercept and escort southbound I-405 traffic through the work area beginning southeast of the I-5/I-405 interchange. The same will occur for northbound traffic beginning at NE 195th
- Traffic using the following on-ramps to I-405 will also be affected: I-5 northbound to I-405 southbound, I-5 southbound to I-405 southbound, NE 195th Street to northbound I-405, State Route 527 northbound to northbound I-405, and State Route 522 to northbound I-405.
- Should the crews finish in less than four nights, City Light plans to communicate via social media and at this Website: http://www.seattle.gov/light/atwork/release.asp?RN=397
Customers will benefit from increased electrical reliability. The new fiber-optic lines will provide redundant communication between facilities generating power at City Light’s Skagit hydropower sites, the Bonneville Power Administration, and City Light substations and its system control center.
Seattle City Light’s point of contact for the media is Scott Thomsen, Communications, (206) 615-0978 and email@example.com. Stakeholder (e.g. emergency services) questions can be directed to Mark VanOss, Sr. Public Relations Specialist, (206) 684-3279 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Map showing affected area of northbound and southbound rolling slowdowns on I-405
SEATTLE – Seattle City Light began upgrading existing electricity meters today with advanced meters that will enhance services for customers and help the publicly owned utility operate more efficiently.
“Today’s installation is a big step toward modernizing the service Seattle City Light provides its customers,” City Light Customer Care Director Kelly Enright said. “Upgrading our metering technology will put more power into our customers’ hands so they can better manage their energy use and it will empower our employees to provide even better service.”
City Light will replace more than 420,000 meters across its service territory by the end of 2018.
The new meters will provide more accurate billing by eliminating the estimated reads currently used to generate a bill when a meter reader is unable to access a customer’s meter or complete a route. Once the Advanced Metering data is connected to other utility computer systems, power outages will be reported automatically and customers will be able to access their energy use information online. The new meters also create opportunities for additional enhancements in the future, such as account balance alerts, monthly billing and optional time-of-use rates to support electric vehicle charging.
“Advanced Metering will be good for the environment too,” Enright said. “Eliminating the need to send a meter reader to your home or business cuts out 200,000 miles of driving and 72 tons of carbon emissions.”
There is no charge for a customer to receive an advanced meter. City Light will provide three notifications before exchanging an existing meter with an advanced meter. A letter will be sent about six weeks ahead of the exchange. A post card will be sent about two weeks before the exchange. And an automated phone call will be made one to three days before the installation.
Customers who do not wish to participate in Advanced Metering can opt out of the program. Fees will apply. For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/light/meters.
Al Ferrara has served City Light the past three years as the Maintenance Manager at the utility’s Skagit Project. Hailing from Rochester in upstate New York, Al’s been an electrician most of his career. Ask him what he misses most about his hometown and he’ll quickly mention the food and the diversity. “New York is huge melting pot,” he said.
Al is also a proud father of four daughters. Since moving to Washington, he and his wife have become empty-nesters and spend their extra time wine tasting, exploring the PNW and cooking. “I love cooking pizzas,” he said. “My grill goes up to 1,000 degrees so I can cook a pie in minutes.” In this week’s (spot)Light, we chat with Al about life in Skagit and his role at the utility.
“Part of my job is to work closely with the many country stakeholders like law enforcement, community leaders and the National Park Services. Because we’re so close to the Canadian border, we also deal with a ton of agencies, from homeland security and state patrol to Whatcom County and the Border Patrol. At Skagit, I oversee the warehouse, trades, grounds, General Store and Skagit Tours. A recent project we worked on is the bridge at Ladder Creek Falls. Our trade professionals hand-cut that bridge from cedar. The crews, the laborers, the carpenters, the right of ways…everyone worked hand in hand on that. It was a great project for us.”
“One of the perks to living here is dining at The Gorge Inn. I don’t eat there all the time, but when I do, it’s always a treat. They recently served an elk dish that was phenomenal. The Dam Good Chicken dinner is out of this world. The homemade desserts are incredible. I’ve never been too much of a pie person until I came here and tasted Washington state berries. Having our master chefs bake them in a pie has just been delightful.”
“The greatest ‘A-ha!’ for me in coming to work at City Light is the utility’s environmental impact. It’s something for which I’m very thankful—that the organization dedicates an entire division to the environment. At times, we’ll deal with things like invasive species. When that happens, our team will come in, mitigate and fix it. It’s just amazing and I get excited knowing I’m part of that team. We should be smiling about the work that we do.”
“There are great people at City Light. I try to help and mentor our employees. The piece of advice I always give is to enroll in a degree program so that when they’re done with their apprenticeship, they have that piece of paper as well. I went back to school at age 48. It was a big feat, but thank goodness I had my daughters to teach me study habits!”
Lorraine Stephens has been at City Light for 28 years and will celebrate her retirement this summer (her last day at the utility is July 5, but who’s counting?) Born in Iowa, her dad’s occupation as a preacher moved her family from town to town, state to state. Eventually, she made her way to Seattle where she’s called home the past 34 years.
Lorraine has three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild (ask her about any and her face will light up instantly). “I love my grandbabies. They say you love your grandkids more than you love your own children, and I think that’s so true,” she said with twinkle in her eye. “They make you happy. It’s just different.” This week, we shine the (spot)Light on Lorraine, her career at City Light and her plans for retirement.
“When I first started at City Light, I was in a janitorial position. Through the years, I worked my way up to a maintenance laborer and then to my current position as an Installation Maintenance Worker (IMW) which is a lead position.”
“As an IMW, I lead the crew in the work that needs to be completed and the service calls that need to be answered. We move furniture, we move people, we’ll haul various pieces and materials. We’ll also go to Boundary and Skagit to build out work stations. Whatever site City Light owns, we’re there. It’s not just furniture. Sometimes we pull weeds, take care of plumbing, install sinks. We do a little bit of everything. I’ve learned a lot; now I take care of all these tasks at home!”
“After I retire, I want to stay put and enjoy summer. I also plan to volunteer at the hospital and rock all the newborn babies that are sick. I can’t wait to wrap those babies and snuggle them with love. I’m really looking forward to that. I also love to walk. My dog Coco better be ready because we’re going to take some long walks together. The Cedar River Trail is nice. I tend to stay out in the open, circle the block near town. I love having Coco around. She’s a cute little Chihuahua that keeps me company.”
“I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know the people at the utility through the years. It’s been like a family to me. We’ve all laughed and cried together. It’s been a great place to work and was a good career move on my part, even though I had to start at the bottom. I’ve always believed that if you work hard, be positive, be nice and treat people right, then that’s how you get by.”
Congratulations on your retirement, Lorraine, and thank you for 28 years of service to the utility! Enjoy your golden years!
This summer, see the many places and meet the many faces of Skagit.
Meet Tre Nabstedt. He’s one of three boat captains that takes you aboard Skagit Tour’s Alice Ross IV boat for an unforgettable cruise on Diablo Lake. This summer will mark his second season showcasing the incredible splendor of the area—from the distinctive turquoise color of the glacier-fed lakes to the architectural marvels of City Light’s Diablo and Ross dams. Tre recently sat down with us for a quick chat about Diablo Lake Boat Tours and what he enjoys most about working in the heart of Mother Nature.
Can you tell us a little about the Skagit Tours on Diablo Lake?
“Right from the beginning, people can expect to see a really nice glimpse of the natural beauty that lives here in the North Cascades. You get out on the water, see different wildlife and learn some fun facts about the lake, the surrounding mountains and glaciers, along with the fish and river ecosystems.
The tour also provides a more in-depth look of the natural systems and fascinating history of how the hydroelectric project was built and operated from the start of J.D. Ross’s vision up until today. It’s a pretty rewarding experience.”
What type of wildlife is typically spotted?
“We see a ton of bald eagles, a lot of different species of ducks. You’re likely to see fish jumping out of the lake. You may see a deer, a black bear, or a mountain lion…there is SO much life up here.”
Who usually joins the tour?
“There’s always a great mix on board. Everyone from newlyweds and families to tour groups and retirees. Occasionally, folks will return to the tour and bring someone they want to share the experience with. It’s a great thing to give as a gift. We’ve also had a few multi-generational groups where grandparents bring grandchildren, which is always fun. It’s an easy day trip that pleases everyone.”
What are the common reactions people have when cruising the lake?
“I would say awestruck. People are completely amazed by the beauty. They’re generally very captivated. I never see bored faces.”
What attracted you to this job?
“By nature, I’m a mountain AND an ocean lover. We’re not on the ocean, but we’re still surrounded by this incredible water. I feel pretty lucky to spend my summers in Skagit…on a boat…up in the mountains. I love it.”
Thank you, Tre, for providing a sneak peek of the “Skagit Magic” one can expect aboard! Seattle City Light has been offering the popular Diablo Lake Tour for more than 80 years, educating the community about the utility’s Skagit River Hydroelectric Project which provides clean, low-cost, renewable power to Seattle. To learn more or to book the tour, click here.
Born in Olympia, Erin Thompson is a native Washingtonian who holds a B.A. in history from Western Washington University. “I’m a local girl all the way,” she said. In her role as Senior HR Business Partner, she leads the records and benefits group where she focuses on process improvements and oversees personnel files, from entries and exits to promotions and open enrollment.
She currently resides in Tacoma, but is slowly inching her way north with her eye on the Fremont and Wallingford area. “The hippie vibe is so me,” she joked. In this week’s spotlight, we chat with Erin about her interests, life in the PNW and her roots in public service.
“Seattle is just a great city with a great vibe. There are a ton of cool neighborhoods and a major food scene. I’m a foodie so of course I love it. I’m a big brunch person—Portage Bay is one of my favorites. For lunch, it’s going to be Wild Ginger or Lola, which has this amazing donut dessert. Dim sum is another favorite of mine. I actually belong to two dim sum dining groups!”
“I’ve lived in Washington my whole life and can’t imagine being anywhere else. I like the weather here. Of course, I like the sun for a month or so, but once it’s here, I want the rain back. Every now and then, I do schedule a beach trip. I’ve done a road trip down to California. I’ve been to Florida, to Hawaii and even though it’s not necessarily sunny, the Oregon beaches are very pretty. I love to travel. ”
“I’m a big reader. I also write science fiction, fiction and fantasy. Generally, I write space operas—think Star Wars. Elliot Bay Bookstore is awesome. I’ll come up on a Saturday, go to brunch at Portage Bay, take a walk around Greenlake and head over to the bookstore where I’ll wander around, pick out a book and read and write in their café. That’s a super nice day for me. I also enjoy going to different author events. I recently attended one at the UW bookstore with John Scalzi.”
“The hook for me at City Light is the fact that it’s a green utility. I did water quality testing when I was a kid and had a crash course in environmentalism so it’s been an interest my whole life. When I was researching jobs, I came across the utility and learned that we have our own dams and do hydroelectricity which is awesome.”
“There’s a history of public service in my family. We’ve worked for the state, the IRS, have served in the Marines, Navy and Airforce—service has been sort of our thing. Which is why I was attracted to working for City Light. What I like about working in public service is the mission. It’s not about the bottom line—everyone here is united by our mission. I want my work to mean something and contribute to a cause that I believe in.”
Thank you, Erin, for your contributions to the utility these past eight months, for sharing your love of the PNW and for your commitment to public service!