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Streetlighting Upgrades, Maintenance, Use Are All About Safety

Making sure the 84,000 streetlights in Seattle City Light's service territory stay on and operate safely is the job of about 200 men and women on Seattle City Light's electrical and distribution crews.


Photo of LED streetlight being installed.

Lineworker Craig Reed installs one of the first LED streetlights in Seattle.

Seattle City Light operates about 84,000 streetlights throughout our service territory to help drivers, pedestrians and others stay safe at night.

Making sure those lights stay on in the dark is one of the responsibilities for the roughly 200 men and women of City Light’s electrical and distribution crews. They make repairs when they learn about streetlights that are out or flickering, poles that look unsafe, or responding to reports of a possible electrical charge coming from the lights.

In some instances, the solution is to replace an old high-pressure sodium light with one of the new LED (light-emitting diode) lights City Light is installing in residential neighborhoods throughout its service territory. A total of about 41,000 streetlights are being upgraded with LED fixtures. The residential area conversions are expected to be complete by the end of 2014.

“LED lights are much more efficient, and they provide reliable electricity at night for pedestrian and driver safety,” says Tyson Reeves, an electrical engineering specialist assistant.

You can watch some of the streetlight crews’ work in this video.

Reeves designs routes of electrical cables to be distributed throughout the city, and works with distribution crews to install new streetlights for customer safety.

The LED streetlights are expected to last at least 12 years, increasing reliability and lowering maintenance costs. The latest models use 60 percent less energy than the high-pressure sodium lights they are replacing. Once all 41,000 lights are installed, the combined savings is projected to be at least $2.4 million per year.

When wiring problems are discovered in streetlights, City Light crews replace the old wires with triplex insulated cables that prevent the wire from being exposed and creating contact voltage that could harm people or their pets.

“Very often, that attention to detail not only helps productivity in the field, but can help everyone do their jobs safely.  In this dangerous field of work, safety can mean no serious injuries or deaths,” Assistant Power Dispatcher Frank McDonald said.  

To report a malfunctioning streetlight or a streetlight that is out, call us at (206) 684-7056. After normal business hours, call (206) 684-7400. You can also report streetlight malfunctions by going to our website at

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.