Seattle City (Spot)Light: Hydro Operator Tim Terrill on Powerhouse Job and Rural Living

Hydro Operator Tim Terrill will celebrate two years at Seattle City Light this January. As part of the Utility Engineering & Operations Business unit, Tim works at Boundary Dam, where he controls and maintains the equipment that creates electricity.  

“I enjoy learning all about the powerhouse and the various systems that go into making the electricity we generate here at the Boundary Hydroelectric Project,” Tim said.   

Tim grew up on the eastern side of Washington state in Colville and has stayed in the “Upper Left, USA” his whole life. He lives in Ione, where he “loves the quiet and rural lifestyle the area offers. I enjoy my free time hiking, hunting, fishing, and working around my property. Any outdoor activity is great in this area.” 

In this week’s (spot)light, Tim talks about his professional background and his hobbies.  

“I studied marine engineering at Seattle Central Community College. I worked in the dredging industry for almost 10 years as an offshore marine engineer. Working at City Light was an easy decision. I work close to home and sleep in my bed every night!  

“As a hydro operator, I operate the machinery and systems that make power at Boundary Powerhouse. We maintain the lake level during spill season by opening and closing spill gates as directed by the power dispatchers,” Tim explained. “I make daily rounds and report any abnormalities to the engineers and trades workers who facilitate repairs. Operators must fully understand all systems and how these systems interact with each other to make electricity. Most of the job is monitoring vitals from a control room and, when things go haywire, taking corrective action as needed to maintain system reliability. We also isolate and manage hazardous energy sources so that equipment is safe for our trades workers. 

“One of the things I most like about working at City Light is that I’m close to home. The utility also provides great resources and benefits. Working here has been an amazing opportunity, and I’m grateful to be part of the team.”