Community Ownership of Seattle City Light Keeps Costs Low, Supports the Environment
SEATTLE – Seattle City Light has been owned by the customers it serves for more than 105 years. In recognition of community ownership, Public Power Week is being celebrated during the week of Oct. 7-13. City Light is one of the more than 2,000 other public electric utilities that collectively provide electricity on a not-for-profit basis to 46 million Americans.
“Public Power Week is a chance for City Light to talk about why public power is so important in the greater Seattle area. We are absolutely dedicated to providing the best customer experience of any utility in the country while maintaining our commitment to reliable, low-cost, environmentally responsible electricity,” Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said.
Public Power Week is a national, annual event sponsored in conjunction with the American Public Power Association (APPA) in Washington, D.C. APPA is the service organization for community- and state-owned electric utilities.
“We are proud to have served the greater Seattle area for 110 years,” Carrasco said. “City Light contributes to our community’s economic vitality by offering some of the lowest rates of any urban utility in the country while also promoting energy conservation that helps our customers save money,” he said. “It’s important for us to let our customers know that they own an extremely valuable asset.”
Seattle City Light invites community members to participate in Public Power Week.
• Students in grades 3 through 6 living in City Light’s service territory can enter an art contest related to energy conservation and shrinking your carbon footprint. Twelve grand prize winners will have their art featured in a calendar and receive a prize pack that includes an annual family membership to one of four local attractions, a science kit and a Skagit Tour. Get details at Seattle City Light Calendar Contest.
• Watch a short video about how public power connects all of us at Public Power Week.
• Learn how you can use solar energy to power your home during a workshop at the NewHolley Branch of the Seattle Library, 7058 32nd Ave. S, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8.
• Join City Light, the conservation group PECI and the Bonneville Power Administration Oct. 9 at 9 a.m. for a check presentation for rebates on energy efficiency investments at Uwajimaya, 600 Fifth Ave. S.
• On Oct. 12, Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Light and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council will announce a pilot program designed to encourage office buildings to increase their energy efficiency with creative solutions.
Seattle City Light got its start in 1902 when Seattle voters approved a bond issue to develop a hydroelectric facility on the Cedar River in 1902 — the nation's first municipally owned hydro project. Today the utility has about 1,800 employees, seven hydroelectric plants and 14 major substations. It serves about 370,000 residential customers, and about 40,000 commercial and industrial customers.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the dedication of Bonneville Dam and the creation of the Bonneville Power Administration. Bonneville was the first of 11 federal dams now operating on the Columbia River. Seattle City Light purchases about 40 percent of the electricity it delivers to its customers from the Bonneville Power Administration.
City Light and BPA share a common past. The second superintendent of City Light was the visionary JD Ross, who built three low-impact hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River. JD also was the first Administrator of BPA in 1937.
In 2011, City Light conservation programs helped customers reduce their energy consumption by 1.1 million megawatt-hours. That’s enough electricity to power 124,000 Seattle homes – one third of the utility’s residential service. Customers who participated in conservation programs reduced their City Light bills by a combined $797 million, half of those savings went to residential customers.
City Light programs also avoided the release of more than 663,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of taking 146,000 cars off the road for a year.
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.