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In 1976, the City of Seattle completed a study titled "Energy 1990" involving both public officials and private citizens. The study set forth Seattle's intention to meet the energy shortage by conservation. This overrode a decision to invest in two regional nuclear-generating facilities as part of the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS). To further its conservation goals, the City submitted a grant application to the Federal Energy Administration (which merged with the newly created Department of Energy in 1977).
The FEA accepted the grant, providing the City with two million dollars over a two-year period to complete a number of separate projects. This clip from the Utilities Committee meeting of September 27, 1977, describes the grant and what Seattle could offer to the rest of the nation as it tested energy conservation strategies.
Excerpt from Utilities Committee Meeting, September 27, 1977
Councilmember Jonathan Whetzel: Now we want to consider an item not on the agenda, but it was the referral of the City Light FEA contract to this committee. Ms. Calhoun, do you want to tell us...it was on there? Oh, it was item nine on the agenda. Thank you for waiting...
Robin Calhoun: It's OK.
Whetzel: ...through this long session. I think the things that I'd like to know are the programs that you and FEA have agreed on and the phasing of them and the dollars involved.
Calhoun: OK, thanks. As you asked, I prepared a one-page docment on the background of the process and the dollar allocation.
Whetzel: OK, good.
Calhoun: And I can answer any other questions you have after I finish. Just as background, on July 12, 1976, as an outgrowth of Energy 1990, the City Council adopted Resolution 25259 relating to energy conservation policies of the City of Seattle. On August 1, 1977, City Light received an RFP from the Federal Energy Administration which requested that we develop a five-year demonstration project which would serve as a national example of programs to implement conservation projects. These projects are also directed specifically at those policies set for in Resolution 25259: actual implementation of cost-based rates, load management, and conservation end-use activities. On August 29, 1977, the City Council passed Resolution 25614 authorizing application for financial assistance under this grant program. The grant application was subsequently developed in cooperation with the Offices of Policy Planning and the City Energy Office and submitted on September 9, 1977. On September 19, we were informed that our proposal was one of ten found by the FEA to be technically acceptable and within the desired cost range. We were then invited to formally negotiate with the FEA on September 21. The negotiations were conducted by myself as project manager, Bill Stafford representing the Mayor, and Mr. Vickery representing the utility. The negotiated agreement is most favorable to the citizens of Seattle and to the City, allocating us $375,641 for the first fiscal year of the program, which runs from October 1, 1977 to September 28, 1978. Negotiations and agreements for the following four years will be conducted annually and will provide conservation assistance of almost two million dollars over the next five years.
As previously stated, the projects to be undertaken are directly supportive of energy policies adopted by the City Council in previous resolutions and stress direct conservation services to our citizens, improved consumer protection, revision of electric service requirements to enhance conservation in all end-use sectors, load control strategies to optimize efficiency of our existing system, and legislative activities to reinforce and direct education, through an analysis of federal, state and local laws and the design of local laws to enhance conservation.
Selection of the City of Seattle to receive this grant in a nationwide competition reflects, I think, our leadership and commitment to conservation and will help ensure that we maintain this role in the coming years.
The entire meeting can be heard here.
Citation: Utilities Committee Meeting, September 27, 1977. Event ID 6544, Seattle City Council Legislative Department Audio Recordings (Record Series 4601-03).