How Outages Happen

While power outages happen far less frequently in the Puget Sound compared to other areas of the country, they are still inconvenient when they do. Ever wondered why your power went out? Or, why your power is out, but the lights are still on at your neighbor's house? Learn more about why outages occur in our area and how we work to restore power.

Outage Resource Guide

Common Causes of Outages

Graphic of a tree with wind blowing through itNatural Causes
Windstorms, heavy snow and ice, or trees falling on power lines.
Graphic of a lightning bolt and cloudsTechnology Failure
Equipment such as towers, feeders or laterals not working properly.
Graphic of a car colliding with a electrical poleHuman/Animal Error
Pole damage or objects and animals hitting power lines.
Graphic of a calendarScheduled Interruptions
Periodic maintenance or equipment upgrades.

While occasional unplanned outages are difficult to prevent, we do work quickly and safely to restore your power.


How We Restore Power

During power outages, City Light crews ensure that power lines on the ground do not pose a hazard to themselves or others. Then, they begin the process of power restoration — bringing electricity to the most people as quickly as possible.

Graphic of a power transmission towerTransmission Towers
One of the first priorities for our crews is to repair damage to our high-voltage transmission lines that carry the most power to the most people.
Graphic of a power substationSubstations and Neighborhood Substations
As junctions for transmission lines meant to maintain reliability of power, when there is a malfunction in a switch, we quickly repair this with the least amount of disruption by isolating the problem.
Graphic of power lines and housesFeeders and Laterals
Feeder lines bring power into neighborhoods and business districts. Power is then distributed by local lateral lines. We quickly repair these lines to restore service to the largest number of customers in the least amount of time by isolating the source of the outage.

What if a neighbor has power and you don't? Damage to lateral lines that feed power to your home (and not your neighbors) is a common cause. If the line that carries power from the lateral to your home meter is damaged, we will find the source and repair it as quickly as possible.


Priorities When Restoring Power

Graphic of a service truck1. Life Safety
Crews are immediately dispatched to fix downed power lines that pose an immediate safety threat to the area.
Graphic of a red cross, a police shield, and a flame2. Emergency Services
Crews are dispatched to emergency services and facilities critical to public health and safety, like hospitals, police and fire stations.
Graphic of two houses3. Customers/Residents
Crews repair areas that will bring the largest number of customers back into service and continue working until everyone has power.

How We Prevent Power Outages

Graphic of a service truck and an electrical poleSafe and Reliable Service
In addition to repairing downed power lines and maintaining grid infrastructure, we're always working to improve safety and reliability through streetlight repair and other safety programs throughout the community.
Graphic of a tree trimmed around a power lineKeeping Trees Trimmed
Tree trimming is necessary to reduce the risk of electrical fires and injuries from downed power lines. Every day, our Power Line Clearance team works to ensure the reliability of our electricity and safety of our communities.
Graphic of a computer screenAdvanced Grid Analytics
Our advanced metering technology provides us with critical data about equipment, power quality, voltage regularity and more. This data helps us better anticipate a possible outage and fix it before it becomes an issue.

For more information about power outage resources, visit our Outages page.