Customers asked to reduce electricity use by 10 percent
SEATTLE -- Mayor Paul Schell and the Seattle City Council launched a major new voluntary conservation initiative today, aimed at reducing the amount of expensive electricity the utility must purchase from the West Coast wholesale market.
“We are calling on City Light customers to reduce their electrical demand by 10 percent at home and at work through the first quarter of this year,” said Seattle Mayor Paul Schell. “Customers will not only save money on their bills, but at today’s wholesale electricity prices, they could help City Light save as much as $500,000 a day.”
The mayor said an effective voluntary program could also help limit the size of future rate increases.
“Conservation is the key,” said Heidi Wills, chair of the Seattle City Council’s Energy and Environmental Policy Committee. “It’s the tool that customers can use to control their own bills, and it benefits the environment.”
Wills recommended turning down the thermostat, using less hot water, and turning off appliances, lights and electronic equipment when not in use.
“There are lots of other ways to cut electricity use and reduce your bill,” Wills said. “By simply turning off your personal computer when not in use, you can save up to $50 a year. Washing clothes in cold water is another good way to save.
“And by the way,” Wills added, “let’s turn off that holiday lighting right now.”
More information is available through City Light’s conservation help line, (206) 684-3800, conservation web site or new 10% for conservation web page.
The conservation appeal will be made to all customer classes: residential, business/commercial, and industrial.
“We will be working with business and industrial groups throughout the city to help them save energy when it is costing the most to buy,” said Schell. “And the city will do its part. I am directing my department heads to begin immediately to reduce electricity use by 10 percent.”
West Coast power prices have been rising steadily since last spring, when demand for electricity in California began outstripping supply. The supply-demand problem has continued into the winter, historically a period when California sells power to the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest is also experiencing a relatively dry fall and winter, reducing the power capacity of the region’s hydroelectric dams.
City Light rates went up about 10 percent beginning Jan. 1 in response to rising market power prices. The utility is considering a further increase, given the continuing high prices and unusually dry weather.
City Light Superintendent Gary Zarker noted that the utility must buy 20 to 30 percent of its electricity from the market in the wintertime. “If we can reduce demand by 10 percent through conservation, it will help our financial situation considerably,” Zarker said.