Seattle City (spot)Light: Seema Ghosh

Seema Ghosh first came to City Light as an intern when she was studying electrical engineering at the University of Washington. After college, she remained in the utility’s generation group for another two years, but left for graduate school at Georgia Tech and later pursued a career in renewable energy. After nine years at a consulting firm, Seema returned to the utility as a Power Systems Engineer, a position she’s held the past nine months.

“My home is in Customer Energy Solutions (CES). I’m in our technology services group there,” Seema explained. “In that role, I look at new and emerging technologies and figure out how we can support the customer with things like connecting a battery or figuring out different ways to conserve energy. Just staying on top of the market.”

Born in Wisconsin, Seema’s family moved to Silverdale, Washington when she was ten. She now lives in Columbia City with her husband Kris, 15-month old daughter Ruby and a pitbull mix named Betsy. In this week’s (spot)Light, Seema shares what sparked her engineering career and the drive behind her work.

“My parents always encouraged me to become an engineer. At first I wasn’t sure; all I knew was that I wanted to do something meaningful–something that would make an impact on my community, as well as the world. I ended up liking math and science and decided to give engineering a try. In my classes, we studied renewable energy sources and that’s when I realized that my engineering work could make a positive impact.”

“I interned at City Light because I wanted to be in power and energy. Being in the generation group was awesome. We visited dams and got to see firsthand how energy is created. I left to do consulting work in renewables, but eventually came back. I connected with folks in our conservation group and when I learned about what they were working on, I knew I wanted to be part of it. The same with our technology unit, they are working on grid modernization and other interesting, forward-thinking initiatives. As a consult, I read and had discussion with clients about what’s happening in the industry but here I get to be part of the team that’s actually implementing new solutions and technologies.”

“Currently, I’m working on the public electrical vehicle (EV) charging program. That’s been taking up most of my time and I’ve enjoyed it. The majority of my background and experience consists of technical analysis and engineering, not program implementation. Supporting the EV project is exhilarating because, I’m actually building something. That means talking to different groups like construction, rates and transportation. The whole process has been interesting, especially figuring out who I need to talk to and why. It’s a big picture problem that requires a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. On top of that, everyone I’ve spoken to has been super helpful and excited about the project.”

“Through the EV pilot, it’s been amazing to see how a utility runs. I mean, we do everything. Transmission, generation, distribution, billing… the whole gamut. It’s cool to work at a place where the projects that you’re working on have a local impact.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Igor Bulanyy

Senior Electrical Engineering Specialist Igor Bulanyy is no stranger to the trade. Celebrating his five-year anniversary with the utility this year, Igor’s rich knowledge of the sector includes a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Kiev Polytechnical Institute and more than 45 years of industry experience. “I’ve being doing electricity my whole life,” said Igor. “I became interested in it in 8th grade as a hobby and then it became my profession.”

Igor works out of the North Service Center Annex and lives in Edmonds with his wife. In this week’s (spot)Light, he shares his interests, including one buzz-worthy passion: beekeeping.

Igor with an educational poster he made about the benefit of bees and their impact

 

“I’ve been lucky to meet good people at City Light. My partner Carey Deutscher was (and still is) my main mentor in this position. Our job duties are challenging. We investigate and interpret any power quality related issues for our customers. Things like radio frequency interferences and electromagnetic fields. My personal interpretation of this position is an ‘electric detective.’ Every case is different which provides me with an endless opportunity to learn something new. It’s a challenge I really enjoy.”

“In 1995, my wife and I came to Seattle because we thought it had similar weather conditions as our home country of Ukraine. The combination of the forests, rivers, lakes and mountains with the city’s urban infrastructure gives us an opportunity to implement our optimistic intentions, hobbies and use our skillsets in the best ways.” “I have many hobbies, but my dominant interest is beekeeping. It’s something I was learning from my father for about 30 years. It was here in the states that I had the chance to take this on by myself and, over the years, the hobby has turned into a lifestyle—a permanent necessity.”

“I’m a member of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, and keep my bees in a rented backyard space in the university district. After work, I ride the bus and make a transfer to another bus to go take care of my bees. I do this at least twice a week and on the weekend. Right now, I have four colonies. I’ve had as many as eight hives at a time—it just depends on the seasons and the conditions. The number of bees per hive also depends on the season. During winter, there can be 3,000-5,000 bees per hive and in the summer as many as 50,000 or more.”

“I never use gloves when I’m with my hives. I like to feel the detail of everything. However, if there’s a situation where I get stung, I take it as a very good benefit. Among beekeepers it’s known that bee venom can help lower arthritis. Bees aren’t only about pollination and honey—they offer other health-related benefits making them irreplaceable on our planet and in our lives.” “I encourage beekeeping for two reasons. The first is to share my experience and knowledge with others. A goal of mine is to encourage and assist people throughout the utility to learn more about bees. The second is that we cannot survive without bees. The bee colony is the ideal society—interesting, multi-dimensional and followed by instincts only. There’s something to learn from them.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Uzma Siddiqi

Uzma Siddiqi believes our destiny is ours to create. As she puts it, “20% is what happens to you and 80% is what you make of it.” In her 14 years at Seattle City Light as a principal electric power system engineer, she has seized her opportunity to work towards long-term change.

Uzma obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University. During her tenure at City Light, she has worked with City Light’s Transmission and Distribution Planning, Engineering Standards, and Customer Service teams before landing in her current position as the principal engineer for Technology Innovation on City Light’s solar resiliency microgrid project.

In this week’s Seattle City (spot)Light, Uzma talks about the benefits of taking a long-term view on major projects.

Technology Innovation Principal Engineer Uzma Siddiqi

“At a municipal utility, you can act in the public good. That works for my values. I’ve been in the private sector before, and I know about the financial constraints of working quarter to quarter,” said Uzma.

“When you’re constantly working toward an immediate bottom line, you don’t always do the things that make the most sense in the long term. At City Light, we tend to think and work in a bigger arc.”

“I do things that (hopefully) make the world a better place for somebody. I don’t need to worry about the minutiae of ‘this quarter, we only made this much money… What are we going to cut next quarter?’ I like that City Light has a longer vision. We are thinking about the public and making sure we do good work on their behalf.”

“Early on, when I started at City Light, I worked on the Sound Transit line. That helps people be mobile and as traffic has gotten worse we have seen the benefit. Providing power to that system in an equitable way was important.”

“The transmission planning work we do makes sure we have power available for our system, and providing reliable power to our customers is crucial. We do our studies and when we see weaknesses we take care of them.”

“Microgrids are another example of looking at the long term. We are working on a resilient solar microgrid community project- basically, a community center that will continue to stay energized, even after a catastrophic event like an earthquake.”

“It’s hard to know what will work in the long run, but you must try. If you don’t play the long game, you will only achieve short gains.”

Seeking Representatives for the Construction Codes Advisory Board

Mayor Ed Murray announced that he is seeking candidates for two vacant positions on Seattle’s Construction Codes Advisory Board.  The current open positions are for an electrical engineer representative and a general public representative.

The board is a 13-member body that works together to research, analyze, and make recommendations to the Mayor, City Council, DPD on the technical codes affecting buildings in Seattle. The board plays an important role in shaping the codes Seattle adopts and how these codes are interpreted. In addition to the board’s advisory role to City officials, the board hears appeals of DPD’s building code decisions. The work requires considered attention to details of highly technical codes. The City relies on the board members’ professional experience and opinions in determining which codes to adopt and to amend.

Board members will be asked to prepare for and attend meetings on the first and third Thursdays at noon in downtown Seattle. The actual frequency of meetings depends on the board’s workload; there may be some months with no or only one meeting a month.

Strong candidates will be civic-minded, critical thinkers interested in the design and construction of Seattle’s built environment. Selected individuals must have perspective, experience, and talents that will enhance the board. Successful candidates will have a willingness to devote two to six hours a month to board meetings and other board duties.

These positions are voluntary and are appointed by Mayor Murray and confirmed by the City Council. Applicants must live, work, or do business in Seattle. City employees are not eligible to be board members.

The City of Seattle is committed to promoting diversity in the city’s boards and commissions. Women, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, young persons, senior citizens, persons of color, and immigrants are encouraged to apply.

The application period opens on Monday, February 2 and closes on Tuesday, March 17.

To apply, complete a New Member Application. The application is posted on the Construction Code Advisory Board’s webpage at www.seattle.gov/dpd/CCAB.

For a paper application or to ask a question, please contact:

Julie A. Hines, DPD Staff Liaison and Code Development Analyst
(206) 233-2766
julie.hines@seattle.gov