Seattle City Light CEO says changes are coming to how power poles are maintained

SEATTLE -- Seattle City Light CEO Debra Smith says changes are coming to how they maintain their power poles after an investigation shows decay and rot are part of what led to more than two dozen poles crashing to the ground.

On April 5th, 26 power lines crashed onto East Marginal Way South in Tukwila right around rush hour.

One of the poles smashed through a car, trapping a couple inside and sending them to the hospital. The incident also knocked power out to about 16,500 customers.

“We have a lot of work out in front of us,” said Smith.

She says several different things played into this dangerous incident.

In the investigator’s report it states weather played a role in bringing the poles down.

The report also says some of the power lines that went down were rotted, decayed and even had beetle infestations.

In 2016, several of the 26 poles that failed had a rating that required replacement. But the investigation shows Seattle City Light’s rating system needs to be changed.

“We’re complying with our plan, but our plan isn’t good enough. Our current process isn’t good enough. Now, we know that, and we have an opportunity to do better,” said Smith.

Smith says moving forward, Seattle City Light will create a new rating system for maintain the power line poles.

She also says they are looking to invest about $80 million out of the Seattle City Light budget to replace about 6,000 poles throughout the region.

“Do I think that customers should be worried that a pole in front of their home is going to come crashing down, no I do not because we are continually out there testing, treating and replacing poles,” she said.

Smith says experts will meet Thursday to come up with a new rating system for the poles.