Seattle City Light completed its systematic inspections of more than 37,000 metal streetlight poles and associated equipment yesterday, identifying a total of 56 sites across the city that were found to have elevated voltage, the utility said in a report released Tuesday.
The city began inspections last month after a dog passed away after stepping onto an energized groundcover plate on Queen Anne Avenue on Thanksgiving Day. Stories of other unrelated, but potentially dangerous energized streetlights quickly followed, spurring the utility to take swift action. As inspections continued, more and more reports of energized streetlights and equipment rolled out (including ten sites found in neighboring Magnolia last week). You can find City Light’s inspection reports for all electrified sites on its Power Lines blog. From the City Light report.
City Light’s contractors identified a total of 49 utility facilities with contact voltage in addition to seven previously recorded by City Light for a total of 56. Contractors also discovered a metal pole for a traffic sign and several privately owned lights that were energized. City Light has notified all commercial, business, institutional, and other governmental entities about the potential for contact voltage associated with metal lamp posts that may be on their property. City Light is encouraging these customers to get the poles and associated equipment tested to ensure public safety. City Light does not maintain equipment that is located on private property.
The industry average for contact voltage potential is 0.3 percent. City Light’s testing found about 0.13 percent of its equipment had contact voltage above 30 volts. While the industry standard for a hazard is 50 volts, City Light set a lower threshold as an added safety measure.
City Light worked with two contractors, Power Survey Co. (PSC) and the Davey Resources Group, to handle the inspections. The utility is currently conducting quality assurance tests of the findings, and continues to work on necessary repairs to return all streetlights to working service.