Seattle Experiences Second Significant Power Outage in a Week

September 13, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

For the second time this week, a major power outage disrupted businesses and residents in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area.  Thursday morning, about 6,500 Seattle City Light customers lost power when a contractor dug up an underground line, which resulted in a voltage spike that ultimately downed some overhead wires.

SCL worked quickly and, by mid-afternoon, power had been restored to a large percentage of customers, but some 1,200 or so were looking at an extended outage going into the dawn hours Friday morning due to repairs being made to the damaged underground line.  Utility crews worked into the night to get power back to those customers as quickly as possible.

Several businesses were forced to close for the day, including retail establishments that had to clear their stores of customers when power went out.  An earlier outage Monday caused by a branch falling on power lines, which also caused school and business closings.

Despite two outages within days of each other,  the area has been less susceptible to outages than many cities due to equipment upgrades and moving many lines underground. 

That said, while utilities can take measures to prevent outages, they are still likely to happen for any number of unpredictable reasons.  A major spike, such as the one that caused Thursday’s outage, presents a threat to businesses beyond the outage duration.

Power spikes and other fluctuations can overload sensitive technology on which businesses depend, resulting in systems going down and businesses being unable to function.  But, there’s a simple solution that all businesses – small and large – can implement to avoid electrical damage.  Power protection systems are specifically designed to regulate incoming power to ensure that systems aren’t overloaded, while also providing backup power when outages occur to enable safe shutdown of systems.

Seattle City Power recognizes that some customers may have extreme need, such as powering life support and other critical medical equipment.  For those customers, they have set up a Life Support Equipment Program to assist customers who are dependent upon electrically powered medical equipment.

Edited by Erik Linask