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Subject:   City Light is Climate Neutral for Second Straight Year
For Immediate Release:   
8/23/2006  2:00:00 PM
For More Information Contact:

City Light is Climate Neutral for Second Straight Year
First Electric Utility in the U.S. to Reach Emission Standard

SEATTLE - As part of Mayor Greg Nickels efforts to make Seattle a leader in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, City Light has achieved net zero greenhouse-gas emissions for second year in a row.

We are not just talking the talk, we are walking the walk, Nickels said. Along with 284 other cities across the country, we are taking real steps to combat climate disruption.

On Feb. 16, 2005, the day the Kyoto Treaty became law in 141 countries, Nickels challenged his mayoral colleagues to commit each of their cities to achieving the treatys target of bringing carbon emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. To date, 284 mayors have joined him.

Seattle is already doing its part. For the second consecutive year, Seattle City Light has met the high standard of providing energy that is climate neutral. This means the utility has reduced emissions of greenhouse gas to the extent possible, and has purchased offsets for any remaining emissions.

We knew we could take a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas pollution, said Jorge Carrasco, superintendent of Seattle City Light. The Utility achieved this goal in several ways. First, it avoids producing greenhouse-gas emissions wherever possible through conservation programs and by using renewable resources such as hydro and wind-powered electric generation. We do emit some greenhouse gas as a result of power purchases and operations, such as vehicles used to maintain the electrical system. To offset these emissions, the Utility buys greenhouse-gas emission offset credits from organizations that have reduced their own emissions, Carrasco added.

Customer support for conservation and renewable energy programs helps City Light keep its emission down. This year, City Light estimates that its greenhouse gas emissions will be about 100,000 metric tons. City Light purchased 300,000 metric tons of offsets, to cover 2006 and to apply to future years. These offsets result from the capture and destruction of a potent greenhouse gas. These offsets are monitored and verified by a third party.

City Light has purchased offsets from many types of projects. City Light funds the use of biodiesel (which has a much lower emission rate than petroleum diesel) in City vehicles, Seattle Public Utilities solid-waste trucks, and King County Metro buses; provides cruise ships with shore power so they can shut down their diesel engines while in port; and supports the use of cement substitute materials, which both reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and solid waste.

The cost of purchasing offsets is about $2 a year per customer, said Carrasco. Its a small amount to pay for the reduction of climate-altering emissions. This utility is 90 percent hydroelectric generation. If the climate does change, and we have less water available for City Lights reservoirs, our customers will spend much more for electricity generated by more expensive means.

For additional information about Seattle City Lights programs to maintain a net-zero greenhouse gas emission status, contact Lynn Best, (206) 386-4586.

Get the mayors inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at www.seattle.gov/mayor/newsletter_signup.htm.

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