Seattle City Light Statement on Video Surveillance Equipment

Recent media coverage regarding law enforcement video cameras that have been installed on Seattle City Light utility poles noted that City Light had access to a video feed from some of the cameras in 2011. Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs issued the following statement regarding the cameras and City Light’s use of the video feed from 2011 to 2012.

“In 2011, one law enforcement agency provided City Light with access to the video feed from some of its cameras in an area where restaurants had been dumping grease into underground utility vaults. Grease in a vault can damage electrical equipment, creates a hazard for our workers and increases operating costs,” Baggs said. “The utility stopped using the video feed in 2012.  City Light has no intention of using any similar access to law enforcement surveillance video in the future. The utility continues to use its own video monitoring for security purposes at its substations, hydroelectric dams and other facilities. All cameras at those locations comply with city ordinances as will any new cameras that we might install in the future.”

In 2015, City Light participated in the development of the City of Seattle’s Privacy Program, which resulted in the creation of six privacy principles that will guide City employees in the collection and handling of the public’s personal information and established a review process for new privacy-impacting technology and data collection processes. The City is currently hiring a Chief Privacy Officer and will launch its Privacy Program in 2016.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.