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Subject:   Was City Light prepared
For Immediate Release:   
12/21/2006  5:30:00 PM
For More Information Contact:
Power Outage Hotline – (206) 684-7400


Was City Light prepared
Corrections and clarifications to today’s print news stories

  • Readiness for Storm

    In today’s Post Intelligencer, “Were utilities ready for storm” the following passage is incorrect:

    “As for Seattle City Light? It sent its crews home the day of the storm . . . “

    Correction: In fact, crews were told to get rest after their shifts so that they could be ready to report back early if necessary to deal with the aftermath of the storm. Initially, they were told to report back at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, but were called back in at 2:00 a.m. to assemble by 4:00 a.m., when the winds had subsided and it was safe to return to work. In fact, this information was provided to two PI Reporters, but they chose not to use it.

  • Readiness for Storm

    In today’s Post Intelligencer, “Were utilities ready for storm” the following passage is incorrect:

    “. . .said Joe Spallino, a City Light line worker who said he was sent home at 3 p.m. Thursday, the day the storm blew in.”

    Correction: In fact, Joe Spallino was not sent home. Joe Spallino’s shift ended at 3 p.m. The article was inaccurate to state that City Light sent crews home. Because the P-I did not corroborate this point with City Light, it gave the false impression that power restoration was delayed because of crews who were asked to leave their jobs. In fact, crews were told to get rest after their shifts so that they could be ready to report back early if necessary to deal with the aftermath of the storm.

  • Frustrated employees

    In today’s Post Intelligencer, “Were utilities ready for storm” the following passage is incorrect:

    “In Seattle, frustrated City Light workers say a decision to send them home the day of the storm delayed getting the power back on.”

    Correction: In fact, the P-I should have contacted City Light to corroborate this claim as it is inaccurate. Because the P-I did not corroborate this point with City Light, it gave the false impression that power restoration was delayed because crews were asked to leave their jobs. In fact, crews were told to get rest after their shifts so that they could be ready to report back early if necessary to deal with the aftermath of the storm.

  • Budget cuts for lineworkers

    In today’s Seattle Times, “Lack of lineman slows job of restoring power,” the following passage is incorrect:

    “When the storm struck, about 30 of Seattle City Light’s linesman positions were vacant, largely because of tight budgets, said Chris Heimgartner, the utility’s director of transmission and supply. That’s the equivalent to a quarter of the utility’s 28 four man crews.”

    Correction: In fact, Chris Heimgartner did not make this statement. Vacancies existing among crew positions are not the result of a funding shortage. In fact, City Light has funds budgeted for these positions. Mr. Heimgartner explained that the reason for the vacancies is an industry wide shortage of electrical workers. In fact, Heimgartner never stated that 30 is the equivalent to a quarter of the utility’s 28 four man crews. This statement was never made and is completely inaccurate.

  • Lack of linemen

    In today’s Seattle Times, “Lack of lineman slows job of restoring power,” the following passage is incorrect:

    “Already short staffed, Heimgartner said he tried to call in contractors even before the storm hit.”

    Correction: In fact, Heimgartner never said City Light was short staffed.

  • Contracting/outsourcing

    In today’s Seattle Times, “Lack of lineman slows job of restoring power,” the following passage is incorrect:

    “Heimgartner, from City Light, acknowledged that outsourcing was controversial, but he said the storm shows the cost of not following PSE’s lead. . .business model.”

    Correction: In fact, Heimgartner only noted PSE’s ability to call for additional contracted crews due to the ongoing nature of such contracts. Heimgartner never expressed a desire to move towards a private business model.

The Utility planned careful response in advance of record-breaking damage

Our customers rely on Seattle City Light to deliver stable service at affordable rates. This has been the tradition since City Light was formed more than 100 years ago. The Utility always strives to maintain that trust, even under the most challenging conditions. Those conditions arrived in force on December 14 when we were hit by the kind of storm not seen around here since 1962.

Long before the storm arrived, City Light prepared its assault on what we knew would be a damaging event. Nobody could have anticipated the sheer enormity of it, laying waste to almost half of our service area. Understandably, customers who remained out of power were frustrated, and some angry. After all, their Utility had always performed, always lived up to its reputation for reliability.

These were extraordinary circumstances. Across the board — from line workers working 17-hour days to customer service reps inundated with phone calls — City Light responded to this crisis with coordinated and effective efforts. The single goal was to get power back on as quickly and safely as humanly possible.

For more information, contact Suzanne Hartman (206) 615-0050 hartmas@seattle.gov




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Seattle City Light is a publicly owned utility dedicated to exceeding our customers' expectations in producing and delivering low cost, reliable power in an environmentally responsible and safe way. We are committed to delivering the best customer service experience of any utility in the nation.

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