SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council today adjusted City Light rates upward by 18% to account for unprecedented price increases in the west coast wholesale power market and low precipitation throughout the western part of the United States.
“We have put in place an energy strategy that by October of this year will insulate us from much of the power market’s volatility,” said Mayor Paul Schell. “Purchasing new energy facilities and doubling our conservation effort gain us the independence we seek, but in the meantime, our goal must be to maintain the financial health of our fine electric utility.”
“Low-income senior citizens and disabled customers will not face any rate increase,” Schell added.
Councilmember Heidi Wills, Chair of the Energy and Environmental Policy Committee, said that both long- and short-term conservation are key to energy costs today and tomorrow.
“Every kilowatt-hour we save today is a kilowatt-hour we don’t need to purchase from the power markets,” said Wills. “Long term, conservation remains the cheapest form of new energy we have.”
The mayor and Councilmember Wills both thanked citizens for their efforts to meet the goal of immediately conserving 10 percent of Seattle’s electrical energy needs.
“It’s working,” said Wills. “After only three weeks we are nearly halfway to our goal. Despite our recent chilly weather, use is down.”
Wills said that conservation will help citizens reduce the effect of the higher electricity costs coming their way.
The ordinance approved by the council includes an increase of four mills per kilowatt-hour effective March 1. It also eliminates the winter/summer rate differential. Winter rates will apply during all months of the year. Finally, the ordinance allows for the passthrough of an anticipated rate increase from the Bonneville Power Administration in October of 2001.