Seattle City Light


On a morning when a fire at a Seattle City Light substation knocked out power to customers including the Monorail, the utility’s CEO happened to be in city council chambers answering questions about safety. 

Seattle City Council members brought CEO Jorge Carrasco into an energy committee meeting to discuss a string of recent embarrassing news stories, including Seattle City Light’s effort to suppress unflattering online search results.

But public testimony at the meeting steered toward the issue of employee safety.

The head of Seattle City Light wanted positive news stories and even hired a reputation-management firm to help achieve that. Instead, he’s been facing a flurry of negative news stories and on Thursday, CEO Jorge held a news conference to apologize for mistakes he’s made.

Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco will not receive a six-figure raise after all, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday.

The Seattle City Council recently authorized a pay hike of up to $119,000 per year for Carrasco, who currently earns $245,000 annually as the highest paid city employee. The raise was slated to take effect on July 1.

However, Murray, who previously supported a higher salary for Carrasco, said he has reversed his decision in light of questions recently raised regarding the utility CEO’s judgment.

Seattle City Light says new advanced electrical meters will let you monitor your power usage in real time. That way, if you see you’re using too much electricity at any given moment, you can run around and turn off a bunch of lights.

But Seattle is hearing from customers who say they’re worried the meters will collect too much data and also pose health risks.

Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light has finalized a new 42-year license on its most productive hydroelectric dam. The agreement wraps up a process seven years in the making.

Boundary Dam sits on the Pend Oreille River in northeastern Washington. It rises to 340 feet tall, spanning a narrow canyon. 

"Oh it's awesome," said City Light's Barbara Greene. "Every time I go there, after 10 years, it's just awesome."

Courtesy Pacific Science Center

It looks a bit like something you might find in a book by Dr. Seuss: five huge sculpted sunflowers with striped green and orange stems.

The new installation outside Seattle’s Pacific Science Center is meant to draw in and educate the public about solar power. 

Seattle City Light

A lone osprey is looking for love in all the wrong places, namely a high-voltage transmission tower, according to Seattle City Light.

The male raptor has been nesting on the tower along the Duwamish River despite the utility’s attempts to shoo the bird to greener pastures. Nest-building material could catch ablaze or cause a short circuit, which might trigger outages or fatally injure the bird.

Photo by Andrew Imanaka / flickr

The tendency for politicians to put off rate increases has meant decades of instability for customers of Seattle City Light. That’s according to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who has unveiled a new strategic plan, which would raise electricity rates a total of 28 percent over the next six years.

Businesses want stability

Though raising rates is unpopular, McGinn says the plan will create more predictability for customers – something that’s especially important for businesses.

Bellamy Pailthorp Photo / KPLU News

Later today, road crews will shut down a 15-block stretch of a major arterial in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. For three nights, the city is testing the use of new LED lighting to replace old-fashioned street lamps.

The study is part of a regional effort that could set the standard for more energy efficient streetlights across the country.

By Stephanie Bower / Courtesy Seattle City Light

As interest in solar power gains momentum, Seattle City Light is marketing a new program to make it more widely available. 

Community Solar gives people who can’t install solar panels on their own homes the chance to reap the rewards of a cash investment in solar power.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

From carousels to picnic shelters and libraries, solar power is becoming more commonplace in Seattle.

City Light says it has seen big growth in customer demand for alternative energy over the past decade – and small solar is one of the biggest draws. 

Jim Kaiser

Wildlife experts think they may have finally outsmarted the osprey, at least when it comes to keeping them off of utility poles. The hawk-like birds have caused power outages and harm to themselves by nesting on high voltage power lines.

Ospreys are pretty resourceful birds. When the tall, bare trees they used to nest in disappeared from the water’s edge, they figured out utility poles were a close substitute. Whenever humans try to stop them from using the poles, ospreys find a workaround.

sea turtle /

Seattle City Light has found another electrified streetlight pole. It was a new pole, which had been installed in January. A dog detected the voltage when it sniffed the pole and its owner called it in. City Light says the streetlight had been improperly installed and had frayed wires.

As a precaution, the utility is inspecting about 60 streetlight poles that were damaged and replaced in the past year. Many of those poles weren’t in place when City Light did comprehensive voltage testing last December and January.

Flickr user Hunda /

The Pacific Northwest has emerged from winter with an above average snowpack, and that's good news for the region's hydroelectric dams. Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco says, “The snowfall we have received in the mountains this winter was fantastic.”


Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Budget Cuts Create Backlog for King County Prosecutor
  • Boeing Says More 787 Work Possible in Everett
  • Six Years of Rate Increases Needed, Says Seattle City Light
  • State Patrol to Investigate Gig Harbor Police Chief


Budget Cuts Strain King Co. Prosecutor Staff

The King County Prosecutor says his office can’t keep up with high-priority crimes because of budget cuts and a jump in aggravated assaults. Doug Satterberg has asked the County Council for $225,000 in emergency funding. The Seattle Times' Keith Ervin reports the request comes six months after voters rejected a proposed sales tax increase:

Paula Wissel

Seattle City Light has identified 56 streetlights in the Seattle area that could give off potentially dangerous voltage.  That’s the final tally from an inspection of nearly 37,000 metal streetlights for voltage issues.

Paula Wissel

Those quaint streetlights that grace some neighborhood business districts in Seattle may be history.  Seattle City Light wants to limit the installation of decorative streetlights in the future.  This comes in the wake of the city’s ongoing inspection of light poles, some of which have been emitting dangerous levels of electricity.

Gary Davis

Seattle’s ongoing inspection of streetlights has turned up more dangerous structures.  But city officials insist the potential harm to people and pets is minimal. 

Seattle City Light began testing all 30 thousand metal lights and sidewalk covers after a dog was electrocuted on Queen Anne Hill in November.  The metal plate the dog stepped on was emitting 90 volts of electricity.  Frayed wires were the problem.  

Gary Davis/KPLU

Seattle City Light inspectors have discovered potentially dangerous voltage present in three streetlights, a situation under scrutiny since a dog was electrocuted Thanksgiving Day on Queen Anne. "Sammy" was on a walk with his owner when he stepped on a metal plate cover at the base of a streetlight on Queen Anne Avenue. 

The lights have been shut off to the three lights until repairs can be made.

Lyn McCracken, Seattle City Light

A fallen tree knocked out power to Northgate Mall and 3,000 homes and business at noon today.    Power was restored to the mall and all but a handful of homes by 1 p.m.  You can track outages at City Light's system status website.

AP (Audrey McEvoy)

Local vets remember Pearl Harbor attack; guilty verdicts for some accused of helping Maurice Clemmons avoid police; vandalism punctures more than car tires in Bremerton; and questions remain over how a dog was electrocuted on a Seattle sidewalk. 


Seattle City Light is apologizing to a Queen Anne neighborhood family whose dog was electrocuted Thanksgiving Day while on a walk along a city sidewalk. Lisa McKibben tells KCPQ-TV she wasn't sure what had happened at first:

“I couldn't tell because he was just convulsing so much and just screeching I didn't know what was happening and I was screaming for someone to help me,” said McKibbin.