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Summer 1998
The state - and States - of Restructuring
Nine states have passed legislation that opens the doors for retail electricity competition. Ten states have proposed similar legislation in the past year. Pilot projects have been approved in eleven states. Every state in the nation has initiated studies, regulatory reviews, developmental projects, or other legislative or regulatory activity to consider the issue of restructuring the electric utility industry. As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other federal agencies work to implement the Energy Policy Act of 1992, Congress debates a variety of measures and approaches to opening the electricity market.


No comprehensive legislation for restructuring has passed in Washington state, but preparatory moves were passed during the last session. A senate bill (SB6560) requires utilities to disclose information including data regarding rates, metering, and payment arrangements. The bill also directs the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) and the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) to study rate disparity within the state and around the region. A report from WUTC and CTED is due by December 31, 1998. A house bill (HB2831) requires that utility bills be unbundled by September 30, 1998 and that utilities provide cost studies by September 1998, to the WUTC for investor owned utilities and to the state auditor in the case of public utilities. The WUTC and state auditor will submit reports to the House and Senate by December 1998. Rural electric co-ops are exempt from this bill.


Meanwhile, voters in California and Massachusetts will get a chance to reconsider their respective restructuring laws in November. An initiative petition in California calls for repealing stranded cost recovery sections of that state’s legislation, a move some predict could scuttle the entire program. Massachusetts’s voters also face an initiative measure, this one to overturn the state’s entire restructuring plan.


Perhaps recent statements from Texas best sum up the state of things. In a July 7 Dallas Morning News article, key lawmakers in Texas say they “have never been more skeptical” of electric utility deregulation. Visits to California and England, where deregulation is getting mixed reviews, have had a “chilling, inhibiting effect” on the lawmakers, said state Representative Steve Wolens. Wolens: “We were thinking, ‘Why do we want to mess with this?’” But the urge to pre-empt any federal rule-writing may prompt Texans to act. “I think the legislature would rather address it than have the federal government do it for us,” said Curt Seidlits, executive VP of government affairs for Dallas-based Texas Utilities.


This much you can count on - as legislative and regulatory issues unfold, Seattle City Light will continue to monitor them, influence them when possible, and advocate always for the best interests of our customer-owners.

System Control Center
Keeping the Balance
On the hectic floors of Wall Street brokerage houses, shares and dollars change hands at a frenetic pace. Only recently have the stock exchanges added electricity futures to their portfolios. But electricity trading is not new to the “power brokers” at Seattle City Light’s System Control Center.


The “futures” traded by power dispatchers at the SCC are not based on an estimated price for next week or next month, but the actual delivery of electrons over the wires in the next hour or the next day. Using weather reports, load data, the generating capacity of Seattle City Light’s generation plants, the carrying capacity of transmission lines, and supply-and-demand information from their counterparts throughout the region, the dispatchers’ goal is to meet our customers’ requirements for electricity at the lowest possible cost while maximizing the value of our generation on the open market.


And that’s just the half of it. Minute by minute, hour by hour, power dispatchers are working with substation operators, line crews, network crews and others to make sure the electricity that reaches your business flows smoothly. They maintain the delicate balance between the power flowing from the dams and the motors, switches and machinery being turned on and off throughout our service territory. They coordinate the switching of power from one line to another so our crews can work in safety and transfer load when the occasional mis-directed automobile connects with a utility pole.


The devil, as they say, is in the details, and this entire publication couldn’t possibly cover the technical details of the calm delivery of service these people provide in a stressful atmosphere. If you would like to tour the System Control Center and get a flavor of the “heart” of Seattle City Light’s electrical system, contact your Account Executive.

At Your Fingertips
Account Executives
Henry Brown (206) 684-3673 henry.brown@ci.seattle.wa.us
David Docter (206) 684-3641 david.docter@ci.seattle.wa.us
Ann Emigh (206) 684-3671 ann.emigh@ci.seattle.wa.us
Dena Peel (206) 684-3637 dena.peel@ci.seattle.wa.us
Chuck Peterson (206) 233-3752 chuck.peterson@ci.seattle.wa.us
Junko Whitaker (206) 684-3624 junko.whitaker@ci.seattle.wa.us
New Services for a New Era
It is often said in business that, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.” With the electric utility industry undergoing its greatest transformation in a hundred years, Seattle City Light has no intention of standing still.


Even as your utility tracks and evaluates legislation, pilot projects and regulatory action at the regional, state and national level, Seattle City Light is already implementing new programs to provide the highest possible level of service in any emerging business environment.


Utility Cost Watch - You can reduce your monthly costs for all utilities with a powerful software program called The Utility Manager™. This Windows-based energy-accounting software program offers site-specific, comparative information on all your utility usage and costs. We can set up the system to track multiple sites and many resources, including electricity, gas, water, sewer, garbage and recycling. We can also interface directly with your accounting software. For more information, call Product Manager John Forde at (206) 684-4288.


Power Quality - Poor power quality inside your facility affects your equipment performance. Seattle City Light delivers to your meter the lowest cost, most reliable electricity in urban America, so if you have power quality problems we will work with you to help solve them. In addition to sponsoring workshops and seminars to help your staff learn about power quality issues, we can provide an electrical engineer who will conduct an assessment and make a referral to pre-qualified private service providers who can work with you in your facility. Our staff will monitor proposed solutions to assure the integrity of our distribution system. By partnering with you to solve power quality problems, both you and Seattle City Light benefit from improved equipment efficiency and less stress on the system. Call your Account Executive for more information.


Operations and Resource Assessment - Receive a customized energy audit of your commercial or industrial facility from City Light. Our Operations and Resource Assessment Service is designed to provide information for managers and owners of commercial or industrial large buildings (over 500,000 kWh annually) who want to reduce electricity costs and improve their business operations. This service provides recommendations for energy efficiency improvements (with financial incentives from City Light to write down installation costs), operations and maintenance actions, and referrals to other City Light services that can meet your needs. To arrange for an ORA audit, contact the Commercial and Industrial Program hotline at (206) 684-3254.


Electronic Commerce - Both recordkeeping and paying bills can be made easier through electronic commerce. Seattle City Light offers Electronic Data Interchange at no charge for customers who can support electronic billing and/or payment through EDI. Another option is to have Automatic Bank Payments made on the billing due date, saving both you and Seattle City Light from handling paperwork. Contact your Account Executive or Ken Cado at (206) 684-3106.


Advanced Metering - Monitor electricity consumption in specific parts of your facility or for a single piece of equipment. Advanced Metering can be installed temporarily, from one week to three months, or permanently. It can assist you in developing a new electric service, expansion plan, or just in analyzing consumption issues and billing concerns. One customer used it to gather load data to meet permit requirements. With Advanced Metering you can spot unusual usage trends and take specific action to realize cost savings. Contact the Technical Metering Unit at (206) 684-3100 for an assessment and cost estimates.


Power Factor Correction - A review of bills for Seattle City Light’s large customers has been done to help reduce customer costs. Soon, if not already, you may receive a letter saying, “Your power factor charges are sizable. We’d like to help you reduce or eliminate costly power factor charges.” Seattle City Light will work with these customers to identify qualified service providers who can determine if correcting power factor can be done cost effectively, and who can assist you with installing power factor correction equipment. We will monitor the equipment installation to insure your satisfaction and to safeguard our distribution system integrity. If you think Power Factor Correction could help you lower costs, please call your Account Executive.

Is THIS What You Want?
Editor’s Note

We'll do our

best to

provide you

with what

YOU want.

A lot of people at Seattle City Light take a strong interest in Utility Trends, but what they think isn’t really important. What’s important is what YOU think.


Here at Seattle City Light we want to do our best to communicate with our customers. Utility Trends was begun as a means of informing our largest customers of trends in the industry, within City Light, and as a means of highlighting services available to you.


Maybe Utility Trends, a printed publication, is not the best method for sharing this information. Maybe you, our readers, would prefer an electronic publication, on the Web or delivered to you via e-mail. Maybe you would like a different kind of printed publication.


The goal is communication. If Utility Trends is what you want, please let us know. If not, please tell us what you would like (even if you want to tell us to leave you alone). To make it easy for you to talk to us, we’re providing a variety of options. You can call (206) 386-9898 and leave a voicemail message. You can send e-mail to the editor at jack.duggan@ci.seattle.wa.us. Or drop us a postcard at Utility Trends, Rm. 2842; Seattle City Light; 700 5th Ave., Suite 3300; Seattle, WA 98104-5031.


We’ll do our best to provide you with what YOU want.

Preserving the Health of Healthcare’s Power
Award Winning Service

"We applaud

your efforts and

look forward to

seeing you and

Seattle City Light

continue to

champion future

technology

applications."

Increasing technology means increasing sensitivity for electronic equipment, and this is particularly true in the healthcare industry. Seattle City Light (SCL) recently won a Technical Achievement Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for work on electric reliability and power quality at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Center and at Harborview Medical Center. Account Executive David Docter was singled out for “leadership in providing power quality and environmental solutions for your healthcare customers.”


Specialized hospital equipment can create unique power quality problems. Minor electrical disturbances that might go unnoticed elsewhere can cause inaccurate readings with high-tech equipment relying on sensitive microprocessors. In addition, some electronic medical and office equipment may create electrical disturbances during operation, which can affect other equipment in the same facility.


Last April SCL joined the Washington State Society of Healthcare Engineering, the Washington State Biomedical Association, the Bonneville Power Administration and other utilities throughout the state as sponsors of a two-day symposium on Power Quality in Healthcare Facilities. Docter followed up on that by leveraging SCL’s membership in EPRI by calling on their equipment and expertise to assist Fred Hutch and Harborview in diagnosing and resolving power quality issues.


At the close of a congratulatory letter to Docter from EPRI, it says, “We applaud your efforts and look forward to seeing you and Seattle City Light continue to champion future technology applications.” As providers of the lowest cost, most reliable electricity in urban America, we intend to do exactly that. Contact your Account Executive to discuss power quality issues.

Chips in an Old Block
Year 2000 Bug

We will

continue to

make every

effort to

insure that

reliability is

one of

our fundamental

services.

Due to a programming shortcut taken many years ago, on Saturday, January 1, 2000, computer systems around the world may “think” that it’s Monday, January 1, 1900. Results of this “Y2K problem” could include losing the ability to perform accounting, payroll, inventory, customer information, billing and other vital data processing functions, and a subsequent tidal wave of litigation.


While some companies are just beginning to address the Y2K issue, SCL and the City of Seattle have the advantage of having started early. But Y2K is a worldwide problem, and potentially non-compliant systems not under our control could adversely affect the City. We will provide regular updates to Council as we approach the year 2000.


Fixing the problem is time-consuming and labor-intensive, involving the review, reprogramming and testing of millions of lines of computer code written in arcane, and sometimes almost obsolete, computer languages. The worldwide cost of remediating existing systems or replacing them with new “Y2K compliant” systems is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Computer experts have been aware of this problem for many years, but with less than 18 months to go until January 2000, many companies, government agencies and individuals have only just begun to address the issue.


SCL began evaluating its Y2K exposure in 1995 with the initial assessment of the Customer Information System (CIS). In 1996 we joined forces with other City departments to work together on a detailed analysis and remediation program. Early on we recognized Y2K as a business issue, not just a technology issue; we began identifying systems that are not Y2K compliant and implementing appropriate replacement or repair strategies. To date, 43 software applications have been reviewed and tested. Four of our most critical systems (Energy Management System, Material Management System, SCL Automated Meter System, and the Conservation Tracking System) are compliant. Solutions for systems that are not compliant have been identified and will be in place by June, 1999.


For the past two years one of our key messages to you, our customers, has been that we provide “the lowest cost, most reliable electricity in urban America.” We will continue to make every effort to insure that reliability is one of our fundamental services on January 1, 2000 and beyond.

Service In Action
What We’re Doing For You
An initial meeting was held to discuss beginning an Operations and Resource Assessment (ORA) at Wright Runstad’s First Interstate Building. The consultant was informed that in addition to a regular ORA on the building, an additional component would be to develop a metering plan for permanent and temporary metering to satisfy goals expressed by the customer. Among these goals are to determine additional energy management efficiency opportunities, and how best to satisfy the Department of Construction and Land Use’s requirements for 30-day demand data prior to electrical service permitting.


A Network crew has worked two weekends and 12-hour days to meet the customer’s request for expedited construction of a vault at the Starwood Hotel. This effort will result in shortening the vault construction schedule by four weeks. Permanent power is expected to be available early next week.


Seattle City Light responded quickly to get Ball Foster’s furnace back on line with minimum downtime. One of BF’s own furnace transformers failed, and they called to see if City Light had any loaners they could use. City Light went to the BF plant to assess the situation and provided information to BF on how they could use one of their own spare transformers as a temporary replacement. BF saved a lot of money in avoided lost production time.

Industry Highlights
News About the Electric Utility Industry

"U.S. utility

companies can

achieve annual

cost reductions

of $1.2 billion"

U.S. utility companies can achieve annual cost reductions of $1.2 billion through the effective use of electronic bill presentment and payment systems. According to Killen & Associates, the opportunity for utilities to save also provides an opportunity to develop a new revenue stream. “These large dollar savings can be seized by any utility that shifts from existing paper-based systems to electronic-based billing,” stated Bob Goodwin, senior vice president of the research firm. “The cost of manual bill presentment ranges from 60 cents to $1.40 per bill. Electronic bill presentment can reduce that figure to about 50 cents each. When electronic payment is integrated with presentment, the available cost reduction becomes even greater.”


The legal fallout from disruptions in electric power presents some of the most challenging, long- term new issues arising out of the restructuring of this industry,” according to Barry Fleishman, a partner in the law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro, Morin & Oshinsky, LLP, Washington, D.C. “All participants in the electric power industry, from the initial generator of electricity to the ultimate end-user of power, will be affected by the application of law to issues of power interruption liability and insurance.”

Electric League of the Pacific Northwest presents
Upcoming Conference
The Electric League of the Pacific Northwest presents “Powerful Tools for Commercial Building Design and Management” on October 28, 1998 at the Embassy Suites , Tukwila, WA.


Registration deadline is Friday, October 16, 1998. Call (425) 646-4727 for brochure and details

 


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