City Light crews working to restore electrical infrastructure in the Mendocino Complex Fire area successfully completed the projects assigned to them by local utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) on Wednesday, August 2018.
PG&E was impressed with the quality of work and re-assigned the crews to work on restoring infrastructure near Whiskeytown, Calif., an area which suffered massive damage in the Carr Complex fire.
South Field Operations Supervisor Ed Hill of Seattle City Light was proud of the work done by City Light crews and the resulting comments given by PG&E staff.
“They’re more than happy with our work and how we adapt to their standards,” said Hill. “Our team tackled a job up a mountain to a communication tower that no one else wanted to touch because of the terrain and line complexity. The communication tower is now back on utility power.”
PG&E reassigned the City Light crews to the Whiskeytown area on Wednesday to re-install and repair transmission lines along with mutual aid crews from San Diego Gas & Electric. The crews are working from a staging area near Redding, Calif., and will also tackle distribution line repairs nearby.
City Light’s crews have been working in difficult conditions. Temperatures in the area are expected to hit triple digits for the remainder of the week, and the transmission work in the Whiskeytown area will require cross-country hiking in national forest lands.
Nevertheless, “spirits are high,” according to Hill. “The crews are holding up well with dust masks and cooling towels.”
On a call today with the mutual aid crews, Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs told the team to keep up the great work and Transmission and Distribution Officer Bernie Ziemianek urged them to stay safe.
If all goes well, City Light’s current mutual aid assignment in California will wrap up on Sunday, August 12.
On August 3, 2018, Seattle City Light sent 19 employees and support equipment to California to assist in restoring the electrical infrastructure damaged by the Mendocino Complex fire. Four four-person line crews, three operators, a supervisor, a safety manager and a fleets manager departed from the South Service Center in SODO with large bucket trucks and digger derrick trucks that dig holes for setting utility poles. The crews are trained in construction methods for both transmission and distribution work.
Since August 5, these City Light crews have been working to restore power to homes and cellular phone towers impacted by the fire, which is now the largest in California history. They are working in mountainous terrain with narrow roads. Downed trees and other debris have made travel difficult at times. Working in smoky conditions, the crews have been using moistened cooling cloths as bandanas to filter out the smoke.
The crews start their day at 7:30 a.m. with a tailboard meeting that provides any updates on the fire. Next, they have a safety meeting. Then they receive their work assignments for the day, collect materials and supplies for the crew and depart from their staging area in Lakeport, California.
“We have enough personnel. We have enough equipment,” said South Field Operations Supervisor Ed Hill. “It is a godsend having a mechanic with us.” The mechanic has been able to make repairs to vehicles in the field, saving the crews time and getting them back to work faster.
Crews have been warmly received to the area. Along with signs thanking firefighters and first responders, they spotted one that said, “Thank you, linemen.”
PG&E, the local electric utility, has told the crews to plan to stay for at least four more days. They still want to make repairs in a neighborhood called Spring Valley, but that area is not yet safe to work in because of the fire.
SEATTLE – Seattle City Light customers started receiving some of the early benefits of Advanced Metering today after computer programming was completed to enable the utility’s billing system to receive electricity use data directly.
Connecting Advanced Metering data to City Light’s billing system eliminates several manual processes that create the potential for errors. It also enables customer service representatives to provide customers with current account balances, eliminates estimated bills that are created when a meter can’t be read and speeds the process for transferring or closing an account.
“Improving service for our customers while increasing our efficiency is one of the key reasons we are upgrading to Advanced Metering,” Customer Service Director Kelly Enright said. “Today is just the start. As we move forward, we will continue to put more power in our customers’ hands to better manage their bills and make informed choices about their energy use.”
City Light has installed about 200,000 advanced meters and expects to upgrade the remaining meters in its service territory by the end of the year.
As additional computer systems are connected to Advanced Metering data, the program will support automated power outage reporting and an online portal that will allow customers to check their energy usage and costs whenever they want.
Additionally, the transition to Advanced Metering will eliminate about 200,000 miles of driving and 72 tons of carbon emissions.
Over the next 15 years, Advanced Metering is expected to pay for the cost of the program and save City Light’s customer-owners about $30 million.
You can learn more about the program at www.seattle.gov/light/meters .
Mayor Durkan is currently seeking a candidate to serve on the Seattle City Light Review Panel. The Review Panel, established in 2010, plays an important role in providing input and engagement of City Light ratepayers in the development and review of the utility’s biennial update to the six-year Strategic Business Plan. The Review Panel is also tasked with reviewing electricity rate proposals, assessing City Light’s electricity rate design and considering the implementation of cost allocation changes among customer classes.
The current vacant panel position is designated for an economist or related profession, preferably with experience in energy economics or commodity risk management.
For more details regarding participation in the Review Panel, including the time commitment to attend regular monthly meetings, please visit this link: http://www.seattle.gov/citylightreviewpanel
This position is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council to serve a renewable three-year term. Qualified candidates will be screened and forwarded to the Mayor’s Office for consideration. To be considered for appointment by the Mayor to the Seattle City Light Review Panel, please send a letter of interest and resume by Monday, May 21, 2018 to SCL_CLRPquestions@seattle.gov or via mail to:
Seattle City Light
Attn: Leigh Barreca
700 Fifth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Each year, Market Strategies International runs the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement Survey (.pdf) for its Cogent Reports. The survey spans the markets of 131 residential electric, natural gas and electric/gas combination utilities across four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. For the fourth year in a row, the survey results led to City Light being named an Environmental Champion.
To be designated an Environmental Champion, a utility must facilitate consumption management, enable environmental causes, encourage environmentally friendly fleets and buildings, and generally show its customers a dedication to promoting clean energy. These traits comprise the survey’s Environmental Dedication Index. City Light was one of the highest-rated utilities in the study, scoring second in the West region on the survey index.
In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the nation to reach carbon neutral status. The utility is actively involved in protecting fish and wildlife, promotes renewable energy development and has the longest-running energy conservation program in the country.