An 18-month, $2 million project that will overhaul Capitol Hill’s electrical system is about to get underway.
Seattle City Light is currently in planning stages for a series of projects across the Hill that will focus on wiring upgrades, replacement of old equipment and moving much more of the Hill’s electrical wires underground.
The work will ultimately result in better electrical service on the Hill, said City Light spokesperson Scott Thomsen.”The goal is to keep the system reliable and dependable so you won’t experience unplanned outages.”
But getting there requires a year and a half of work and increased planned outages on Capitol Hill.
“Any time you go through to do maintenance work, there is going to be service interruptions,” Thomsen said. “If we’re going to take out the transformer, there’s nowhere else to bring the power in from.”
Thomsen said there will be notifications sent out in project areas in advance of any planned service disruptions. City Light workers will go door to door with door hangers prior to smaller projects. For more significant work, the city department will send out letters with project details.
One of the most significant components of the upgrade will be replacing pockets of old wiring that are still serving Capitol Hill customers. The standard for electrical wires is 26,000 volt capacity — parts of the Hill are still served by 4,000 volt wiring, Thomsen said.
The upgrade will make the system better able to deliver service even when there are incidents when wiring is damaged and electricity needs to be re-routed, Thomsen said.
Thomsen also said the effort to move electrical wiring underground on Capitol Hill will not result in a 100% below ground system but that much more of the Hill’s wiring will be buried by the time these projects are complete.
As for a start date, City Light is still working that out but Thomsen said wet wintery weather will not be a factor. “We work twelve months a year,” Thomsen said. “We work through all weather.”