Mayor wants street light repairs increased this year

Mayor Greg Nickels announced today his proposal to allow Seattle City Light to fix more street lights this year.

“We are committed to replacing and fixing street light fixtures as a matter of public safety and good customer service,” Nickels said in a statement.

In April, City Light responded to the mayor’s call for no rate increase in 2009 and to declining revenue from its surplus power sales by cutting its 2009 operating and capital budgets. These cuts include substantial restrictions in the use of overtime that result in longer times to complete street light repairs and other services.

The city’s general fund pays City Light more than $9 million annually for the costs of building, operating, and maintaining streetlights. The mayor is proposing that $2.1 million allocated in the 2009-2010 general fund budget for street light repairs be spent earlier to speed up street lamp replacement.

Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Energy and Technology Committee supports the plan.

“Proper street lighting enhances the safety and ambience of a thriving city and helps define its health, culture and vibrancy," said Harrell. "This change is a customer-focused approach that provides cost-effective repair service to our valued residents and businesses.”

By accelerating its work and assigning more crews on regular time to repair street lamps, the utility said its goal by the end of 2009 is to respond to reported outages within 10 days. Once that standard is met, City Light will be able to maintain a consistent level of street light work through 2010.

City Light also will proceed with the second phase of its “group relamping” project, which replaces all the streetlights in an area and puts streetlights on a scheduled, replacement program to reduce outages.

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