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Councilmember Bruce Harrell
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Energy, Technology, and Civil Rights
(2008-2011)

City Light Bond Sale Saves Utility and Customer Base $57 Million

City Light

SEATTLE - Seattle City Light and its customer base saved $57 million dollars by refinancing its revenue bonds. Even with a historically low snow-pack year and an economy not seen since the Great Depression, prompt and prudent action by the City Council allowed City Light to retain its premium bond ratings of AA- (Standard and Poor) and Aa2 (Moody's). Earlier this year, the City Council, Mayor, and City Light's Superintendent worked together to create the Rate Stabilization Account (RSA), a $100 million dollar reserve fund, to maintain and strengthen City Light's financial position. The $57 million in savings will go toward building the reserve fund.


Protecting Ratepayers - Seattle City Light Revenue Stabilization Account:

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The ordinance creates a $100 million Rate Stabilization Account (RSA) for Seattle City Light. The account provides protection for Seattle City Light customers from the volatility of the wholesale power market. In addition to providing an insurance program against the fluctuations of the wholesale power market, the fund also shores up the bond rating of City Light, allowing the utility to borrow at lower rates and ultimately deliver lower cost power to its electricity customers.


10 Technology Initiatives for 2010:

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As part of my work plan, I committed to optimizing the use of technology to increase transparency, enhance access to City information and improve government effectiveness and efficiency. On September 8, 2009, I released a set of groundbreaking technology initiatives for 2010.  My staff and I developed the initiatives after a thorough review of the City's technology, governmental systems and protocols. 

Read more on my personal blog.


Streetlights and Safe Neighborhoods:

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Smart Grid:

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Seattle City Light is uniquely positioned to provide low-cost, clean electricity to our customers—who own the public utility. Approximately 88.83% of Seattle City Light's electricity generation is from hydro, a renewable energy.  With the commitment Seattle and Washington state has demonstrated with the passage of I-937 in 2006 (3%-renewable energy of its load by 2012, 9%-renewable energy of its load by 2016, and 15%-renewable energy of its load by 2020) and Seattle City Light's commitment with a 5-Year Conservation Plan to avoid 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, what is the next step to continue providing the lowest rates and the cleanest electricity in Seattle?

That next step is Smart Grid. IBM's slogan is "building a smarter planet." Smart grid is the answer for building a smarter Seattle. Smart grid is a revolutionary change in how a utility generates and distributes electricity. The revolution has begun, with a federal stimulus package of $3.4 billion for smart grid technology. From these funds, $9.6 million was granted to Seattle City Light and the University of Washington for the development of a "smart micro grid" on the Seattle campus. Consumer education and engaging the public on what exactly is a smart grid and how it helps residents is absolutely vital as we discuss the development of a smart grid. Read more on my personal blog.

"Councilmember Harrell Calls for a Smart Grid"


Broadband:

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One of my goals is to formulate the best environment for people and businesses to thrive in this region (1). To sustain a successful business and learning environment, we must make sure affordable, next-generation broadband access is available to all residents and businesses of all sizes. Our neighbors in other smaller cities and regions have capitalized on this proposition and are investing in stronger technology systems to attract people and businesses. Maintaining the status quo regarding Internet speed and capacity could mean being left behind. To suggest that Seattle has neglected a plan to deploy high speed fiber is somewhat naïve and inaccurate. There are clearly reasons why no major city has deployed a municipally owned fiber system and why Clarksville, Tennessee; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Monticello, Minnesota are cited as the examples of cities that have deployed it. There is a reason why San Francisco, Portland and St. Paul have not launched a city-owned system. Irrespective of these facts, I agree that an opportunity for national leadership on this issue presents itself. Read more on my personal blog

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