Fire at Broad Street substation takes out power around Seattle Center

At 10:05am today a fire broke out at Seattle City Light’s Broad Street substation. The fire knocked out power in areas around the Seattle Center. 325 customers are without power due to the fire, including the Space Needle, EMP, Key Arena and Seattle Center.

According to Seattle City Light: “Fire happened in a capacitor bank, which regulates the quality of power flow.”

Here’s the current outage map:

SCL Broad St outage

Power outage on Lower Queen Anne near Mercer

UPDATE: SCL now has an estimated restoration time of 5:47pm

Power is out to 483 customers right now around Mercer Pl and W Mercer St west of 3rd Ave W. Cause is undetermined per Seattle City Light, power estimated to be restored by 4:40pm.

Power Outage 092813

Three John Hay Students Win Seattle City Light Calendar Contest

For its 2013 Shrinking Bigfoot calendar, Seattle City Light held an art contest for elementary students, with the winners’ artwork featured in the calendar – and three John Hay students were among the 13 winners. The students created artwork to illustrate ways to shrink one’s carbon footprint, with all proceeds of the calendar going to Project Share, an emergency fund that helps City Light customers who need one-time financial assistance with their electricity bills.

Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco congratulated the 13 calendar contest winners at a reception this past Wednesday:

According to Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco:

“Each of the winners demonstrated great talent in sharing tips that we all can use to shrink our carbon footprints. It’s impressive to see young people engaged in an effort to reduce climate change while helping support our Project Share program. These students are giving back twice to their community.”

Our local Queen Anne winners are Lola, Maren, and Josie, all 3rd graders at John Hay – click their drawings to enlarge:




Calendars are available for $10 and may be purchased online or at Seattle City Light’s service centers.

City to pay $11K to owners of electrocuted dog

The city of Seattle agreed to pay $11,000 earlier this month to Lisa McKibbin and Nancy Bostdorff, the owners of a dog that was electrocuted after stepping onto a charged ground-cover plate on Queen Anne Ave N on Thanksgiving Day, according to a report by the Seattle PI.

McKibbin and Bostdorff filed a $60,000 claim over Sammy’s death back in March, claiming physical, emotional and monetary damages. Sammy was a 6-year-old German shorthaired pointer.

McKibbin had been walking Sammy when he stepped on and was killed by 90 volts of “stray voltage” on a sidewalk ground-plate cover. The tragedy prompted an investigation at Seattle City Light, which found that four area streetlamps, including the one that killed Sammy, had been improperly grounded by a private contractor back in 2006. City Light responded by conducting a first-ever inspection of all 37,000 streetlights and associated equipment citywide. By the time the inspection concluded in January the utility had found and repaired 56 sites with elevated voltage.

According to the PI report, as per the terms of the agreement, the city will now post contact voltage “safety messages” on the Seattle City Light website, and is also expected to post a link to a page on electrical safety from a Toronto utility.

The owners’ attorney, Adam Karp, told the PI that McKibbin and Bostdorff “congratulate the city on taking preventative steps to protect the public from future hazards.”

Read the full story at the Seattle PI.

Burke-Gilman Ship Canal Trail detour starts today

Starting Monday, Seattle City Light crews will begin to install new lines on the towers that are on either side of the Ship Canal at Warren Avenue.

The detour for the Burke Gilman trail while the towers are being worked on. For a larger image, click here (.pdf).

“Because a safety buffer zone must be established under the towers, a portion of the Burke-Gilman Trail and Ship Canal Trail will be closed intermittently. Bike trail detour signage will be placed in advance of our work,” the press release states.

The crews will work Mondays through Saturdays, depending on weather, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the summer. The trail detours will be in place between 6:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.

Before work can begin on the tower, Osprey nest material on the north tower needs to be moved.

In recent days a pair of Osprey have been apparently placing a small amount of nest material atop the north tower. City Light biologists will be checking first for young/eggs before we begin the project – and if there are none, we will remove the nest material and move forward with the project. We will continue to monitor the situation and, if warranted, investigate ways to provide safe nest sites in the area in the future.

More information on this project can be found here.

City Light warns against bill collection scammers

Seattle City Light released a statement yesterday urging customers to be wary of telephone con artists posing as utility bill collectors, and advising customers on ways to safeguard against such scams.

In the past week, the utility received at least two reports of phone calls from con artists claiming to be electric utility employees who were ready to disconnect their electricity. The scammers appear to be targeting residents with Asian surnames and similar businesses.

Here’s a rundown of the scam, which has reported several times over the last few years: callers target City Light customers claiming there is a problem with the payment of the customers’ bill. They then ask for a credit card payment over the phone to resolve the matter. According to Seattle City Light, in one instance the caller claimed to work for a different utility.

“If someone asks for your credit card number or Social Security number over the phone, don’t give it to them,” Customer Service Director Kelly Enright said in the statement. “We never demand immediate payment to avoid a shutoff for one late payment or use Social Security numbers as part of our billing process.”

According to City Light, customers who may be behind on their bill and at risk of having the power turned off, will first receive at least two written warnings asking the customer to contact the utility directly to make a payment.

City Light also sent the following reminders to customers:

  • Seattle City Light accepts credit card payments at a customer’s request, but never demands or solicits credit card information to pay a bill.
  • Seattle City Light does not call customers on weekends about their utility account.
  • Seattle City Light employees carry identification with the City Light logo and will always display it when asked.

If you suspect that you’ve been targeted by a similar scam, City Light advises you take down the name and telephone number of the caller, and before providing any credit information, call City Light at 684-3000 to first verify that the request is legitimate.

If a customer believes he or she has been contacted by a con artist, they are urged to contact the Seattle Police Department at (206) 625-5011 to report the incident.

“Sadly, there are criminals out there who will try to take advantage of another with the false threat of cutting off their electricity,” Enright said. “Seattle City Light wants to help its customers protect themselves from scam artists and the best way to do that is to be informed.”

Two upcoming meetings on Warren Avenue crossing-Ship Canal overhead lines

Seattle City Light crews plan to install new lines on the towers that are on either side of the Ship Canal at Warren Avenue, completing last year’s project to provide more electrical capacity and reliability from their Canal and Broad Street substations.

The work will take place between May and July and will take place on both sides of the canal simultaneously. Portions of the Burke-Gilman Trail and Ship Canal Trail will be closed intermittently.

Two public meetings are planned to discuss the project. The topics will be the same at both meetings. The first is on Tuesday, March 29, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at Seattle Pacific University’s Bertona Hall, 103 W. Bertona St., Room 2. Parking is free in the lot west of the Bertona building. The second meeting is on Tuesday, March 29 from 1 to 2 p.m. at Theo Chocolate, 3400 Phinney Ave. N.

For more information, visit the project information page.

Owners of electrocuted dog file $60,000 claim

Lisa McKibbin and her mother, Nancy Bostdorff, the owners of the six-year-old German shorthaired pointer named Sammy who died after stepping onto an energized streetlight ground-cover plate on Queen Anne Avenue on Thanksgiving Day, have filed a $60,000 claim with Seattle City Light over the dog’s death, according to a report by The Seattle Times.

McKibbin and Bostdorff are being represented by Bellingham-based attorney Adam Karp, who specializes in animal law. The 17-page claim, which was filed Friday, included a note from Karp that the two would settle for $30,000 if City Light would agree the the following three conditions:

  1. That City Light post contact-voltage safety tips on its website;
  2. The City Light would take part in an annual contact-voltage safety conference;
  3. That City Light would make contact-voltage scans annual rather than every four years.

After Sammy’s death City Light conducted inspections of more than 37,000 streetlights and associated equipment citywide, finding and fixing a total of 56 sites where contact voltage of at least 30 volts was detected.

From The Seattle Times:

In the claim, Karp said that since the 68-pound dog, Sammy, was purchased in 2004, the daughter and mother had spent over $10,000 on the dog, with the big-ticket items being $5,212 for “doggy day care,” $2,400 on vet bills over the six years of his life and $1,339 for emergency treatment and cremation after the dog was electrocuted.

In the claim, Karp said Sammy “did not have a fair market or replacement value,” but “a unique value.”

“My clients loved Sammy as if he were their child. … The avoidable and wholly unexpected death by electrocution of Sammy caused complex grief and emotional harm to both my clients,” said the claim.

McKibbin originally purchased Sammy for $200.

Included in the claim were photos of Sammy on vacation with his owners, and postings by McKibbin from the blog she created shortly after his death. Karp told the Times that McKibbin needs counseling that she cannot afford because she does not have medical insurance.

The claim said McKibbin “will testify to complex grief, emotional and physical stress, haunting flashbacks replaying the witnessing of Sammy’s death, fear of herself also being killed by lethal voltage and losing him so tragically and unexpectedly.”

Suzanne Hartman, spokeswoman for City Light, told the Times that they will take a look at the claim and put it through the “normal processing to determine the reasonableness.” Karp told the Times that if no settlement is reached within 60 days, a lawsuit will follow. Read the full Times piece here. See our past coverage of the tragedy and inspections that followed here.

City Light prepares for power outages due to winds

Seattle City Light is preparing for the possibility of power outages due to the weather forecast, which is expected to bring strong winds to the Puget Sound area this afternoon.

This morning the National Weather Service issued a wind advisory, which is in effect until 9 p.m., predicting sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting up to 50 mph.

“A storm like this could cause power outages particularly since the ground is saturated and trees could fall into our lines,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said in a statement. “Our crews are ready to respond and restore service as quickly as possible, but it is always important for all of us to be prepared.”

In preparation for potential outages, City Light advises residents to put together an emergency preparedness kit. From City Light:

A kit should include enough food and supplies to last your family for at least three days, hand-crank or battery-operated flashlight and radio, fresh batteries, a survival blanket, a first aid kit, pocket tissues and hand sanitizer wipes. For a checklist and other tips go to .

City Light also sends the following safety reminder in the event of power outages and downed lines:

  • Do not go near any downed wire. Wires should always be assumed to be “live” and dangerous. If someone seeks a downed wire, they should call (206) 684-7400;
  • Do not use a barbecue grill or generator inside the house or in a garage that is attached to the house. Do not use a grill or generator near a home air intake vent or near windows;
  • Do not use fossil fuel burning auxiliary heating sources;
  • Know how to manually override electric garage doors, security doors and gates;
  • Have a land line phone or fully charged cell phone available — cordless phones won’t work when the power is out;
  • Unplug electrical appliances if the power goes out so that when the power comes back on, there won’t be a surge that could damage sensitive electronic equipment;
  • Use battery-powered flashlights – not candles or oil lamps;
  • Close doors, windows, curtains, and unused fireplace dampers to retain heat if there is an outage.

City Light to give final report on streetlight testing

Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco will present the final report on the recent testing of more than 37,000 streetlights and associated facilities citywide to the Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee of the City Council tomorrow, Wednesday, February 16.

Testing began back in December after the Thanksgiving Day death of a dog that was electrocuted by an energized metal plate covering a streetlight vault on Queen Anne Avenue N. This was followed up by reports of other potentially dangerous energized streetlights and groundcover plates.

City Light crews and contractors hired for the inspections identified a total of 56 instances of contact voltage that measured at least 30 volts across the city, including the location here in Queen Anne. In addition to discussing the testing process, Carrasco is expected to outline the utility’s plans for ongoing inspections, testing and maintenance.

The Council Committee meeting starts at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16 in the Council Chambers at Seattle City Hall, located at 600 Fourth Ave. A media briefing  will follow at 3 p.m. in the Bertha Knight Landes Room. Specific questions will be addressed during the briefing.