(Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted in 2010. Please read here for an update about City Light’s contact voltage testing program in 2021).
Welcome Announcement from Seattle City Light
On December 8, Seattle City Light announced that it will “inspect and to make repairs, if necessary, to any of the 20,000 metal streetlight poles and 10,000 metal “hand holes” (small streetlight vault covers)” in the utility’s service territory.
The utility made the announcement after a West Seattle woman told the company that a faulty streetlight shocked her dog. She explained what happened on website West Seattle Blog:
“Sophia has been acting weird around the pole for a couple months. They only ran a line to it about 4 months ago becuse it was one that has never worked and it took years to get them out here to fix it. Once they ran a line to it then it was on 24 hours a day.
Then Sunday night we were also walking a friends dog and she touched the base……and started as if she had been shocked but mildly.
I called the next day. I should have put 2 and 2 together sooner and not just thought my dog was being a drama queen. Leave it to Sophia. Now I have to train her to stop being scared of it, that’s going to take some work.”
Not an “Isolated Incident” After All
SCL’s announcement was quite different than its response to the death of a dog named Sammy in Queen Anne a few days earlier when a metal plate next to a faulty streetlight electrocuted him.
In response to that tragic event, SCL Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said, “We want to assure the public that this was an isolated incident.“
In a previous article I wrote that, “the Seattle Department of Transportation, not SCL, had the responsibility for approving the installation of private streetlights; also, no written records exist for these installations before July of 2010.
If no records exist, how could Superintendent Carrasco know if the contact voltage that killed Sammy was an isolated incident?“
Seattle City Light Finally Tests for Faulty Streetlights
In my opinion, Superintendent Carrasco’s made the assertion that the faulty streetlight in Queen Anne was an isolated incident because he didn’t want to alarm the public and wanted to avoid having to test the 20,000 metal streetlight poles and 10,000 metal “hand holes” in the utility’s service territory.
The only reason SCL decided to do the testing now is because a faulty streetlight shocked another dog.
I do want to thank Lisa McKibbin, who fought SCL’s attempts to sweep the death of her dog Sammy under the rug and kept this story in the media.
Despite her grief, she used Sammy’s death as a touchstone for keeping pressure on SCL through sammysbigheart, the blog she created after Sammy’s death.
Her efforts will prevent future injuries and/or deaths of both people and pets.