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Seattle City (spot)Light: Darrin Kinney

Distribution System Planner Darrin Kinney has been part of City Light’s Energy Delivery Engineering group for four years.

Distribution System Planner Darrin Kinney has been part of City Light’s Energy Delivery Engineering group for four years. “We determine the need for new substations, new infrastructure, the deferral of projects, those types of things, “Darrin explained. “We also develop small-area load forecasts. This helps us determine the future performance of the distribution grid which enables us to develop long-term plans for the expansion or reconfiguration of the system.”

A California native, Darrin grew up in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Yosemite National Park. He attended Fresno State University and graduated with an electrical engineering degree. He lives in Snoqualmie with his wife Lisa and their five-year-old daughter Jessica. “My wife and I refer to ourselves as ‘climate refuges’ which is how we ended up in this area,” Darrin shared. “We just got tired of the heat!”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Darrin talks about his role at City Light and his upbringing.

Darrin with his wife and daughter

“In college, I had an emphasis in communications and worked in that field for some time. I designed radios and other things. The small company I was working for went out of business, so I did a complete pivot and opened a motorcycle shop. I ran that for four years. We rented out Harleys, jet skis—all the toys. During that time, a repeat customer with whom I had started to develop a friendship died in a motorcycle crash. After that, I lost my interest in the business and returned to engineering. I worked at Southern California Edison for six years as a distribution planner. Originally, I got started in energy efficiency, but there was an opening in distribution planning. It piqued my interest, so I applied and that’s how I ended up in this specialty. I get a lot of satisfaction in optimizing projects and making sure that whatever the utility builds gets the best bang for the buck, so to speak. As a planner, you must be knowledgeable about everything.”

“I grew up differently from a lot of people. We lived on the very edge of the grid—as far as you could be while still being on the grid—in a little place called Shaver Lake. My nearest friend was a mile away. Our house was backed up against Sierra National Forest which gave me a backyard of 10,000 acres. I did a lot of fishing, camping and riding my ATC. My father was an engineer for Hewlett Packard and after a difficult project he said, ‘The heck with this! We’re moving to the mountains.’ So, we did. We left San Jose and headed straight to the mountains.”

“I play slide blues guitar. I learn songs from the old greats like Skip James and Charlie Patton. I also love the outdoors. Fly fishing is one of my favorite hobbies; I love that we have awesome fly fishing a few minutes from my home. We love to go camping. We’re still learning the area, but really liked Ocean Shores. That’s another reason why we wanted to move here. We felt like we had seen it all and done it all in California. We were ready for a new place to explore. We wanted an adventure; new places to discover. There are still so many activities I want to try. I want to go deep sea fishing. I want to climb Rainier. We just got Jessica her passport so we’re looking to spend some time in Canada. Basically, do all the outdoor activities that attracted us here in the first place!”