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Cause of outage under investigation after 22,000 in Seattle lose power

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More than 22,000 customers were without power in another large Seattle City Light outage.

Seattle City Light estimated restoration time around 6 p.m. for thousands of people from Ballard to Queen Anne. But by 5 p.m., the power was mostly restored. The cause is still under investigation.

Monday’s power outage did not happen during a weather event. It’s now one of four big outages in the last year.

In a similar incident, nearly a week ago, more than 20,000 people were in the dark for three hours. The outage hit six Seattle neighborhoods: Eastlake, Montlake, North Capitol Hill, Fremont, Wallingford and University District. KIRO 7 News asked Seattle City Light officials why the outage happened, but the utility did not provide an answer.

Last year, 60 percent of downtown Seattle lost power. It led to dark intersections, traffic delays, and building evacuations. Human error – described as an “oversight” in a Seattle City Light briefing – led to the massive power outage that left thousands of customers in the dark.

Just before the downtown core power outage, a raccoon knocked out power to around 38,000 homes in Fremont, Wallingford, Ballard, Queen Anne, and Magnolia.

KIRO 7 News asked University of Washington’s Baosen Zhang, who is a professor in electrical engineering, about the outages.

“Happens in every city, not just Seattle,” he said. “Every city.”

Zhang said Seattle is spared the hurricanes and other disasters that can destroy a city’s entire electrical grid.  Moreover, all cities, including Seattle, are dealing with aging infrastructure.

Still, he said he is working with City Light to improve its response time when the lights do go out.

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