Fog Covered Skyline
Seattle City Light DEBRA SMITH, General Manager and CEO
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Hydroelectric Project Environmental Programs

Our Mission

Seattle City Light is dedicated to exceeding our customers' expectations in producing and delivering environmentally responsible, safe, low-cost, and reliable power. City Light recognizes that the water used to provide clean energy to our customers is vital to fish and wildlife. It is also a source of scenic beauty and provides recreational opportunities that are critical to the quality of life in the Northwest. For these reasons, City Light is committed to resource protection, environmental education, and environmental stewardship .

City Light's Environment, Land and Licensing Business Unit is responsible for overseeing environmental programs and services relating to hazardous materials, greenhouse gas reduction, environmental permitting, and the protection of aquatic ecosystems and fish and wildlife habitat. The Business Unit supports City Light's operations throughout the service area and at its hydroelectric generating and transmission facilities.

City Light's environmental commitment is embedded in the six-year Strategic Plan for the utility. This strategic plan was approved by the City Council in 2012 and updated in 2014. City Light's efforts also are fundamental to the Seattle Climate Action Plan's goal of making Seattle a carbon-neutral city by 2050.

Our Work:

2016 Annual Equity Report
2016 Annual Equity Report
Seattle City Light's Environmental Equity Program advances social equity, environmental justice and action on behalf of those most affected by environmental issues. Read about the program in the 2016 Equity Report.

Achieving Zero-net Carbon
In 2005, City Light became the first electric utility in the United States to achieve zero-net carbon emissions by fully offsetting emissions created by day-to-day operations and the power City Light purchases to supplement its own clean, hydroelectric generation.

Implementing Hydroelectric Project License Environmental Measures
City Light operates four hydroelectric projects (Skagit River, Newhalem, Creek, Boundary, and South Fork Tolt) under licenses issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These licenses Pend Oreille River at Metaline Falls include measures intended to mitigate project effects on the environment and to protect and enhance the natural and cultural resources associated with the projects. The Skagit River Project has been independently certified as a Low Impact Hydro Project.

Contributing to Science
City Light understands that the essence of sound fiscal environmental management is rooted in science-based decision-making. To ensure that environmental measures are based on sound scientific information, City Light conducts and sponsors research on fish, wildlife, and climate. Results are used to inform our operations and adapt our environmental stewardship efforts. City Light staff also contribute science and policy expertise to regional efforts to protect salmon and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem.

Salmon net tagging - Fish and eagle

Working with Nature
Skagit transmission line Habitats along City Light's electrical transmission corridors provide ecosystem services such as natural water filtration, carbon storage, and pollination, among other environmental benefits. These habitats benefit all of us and are essential to sustaining the region's environmental health. With this in mind, City Light is working with community stakeholders to examine the way vegetation is managed along transmission-line corridors. City Light's goal is to increase ecosystem services and improve habitat value while ensuring safe and reliable electricity for our customers.

Climate Change
While City Light is working hard to be a zero-net carbon utility, climate change is a global challenge that could affect the long-term business health of the utility. City Light is looking at all aspects of its power generation and transmission system in climate change.

Supporting Environmental Education
City Light is committed to caring for the environment. As part of this commitment, City Light supports several environmental education efforts, including:
  • Annual field trips to the Cedar River for elementary schools in traditionally under-served communities and with demographics that have are not well represented in natural resource careers.
  • The Skagit Tours, which are conducted in partnership with the National Park Service and the North Cascades Institute to highlight the connection between the North Cascades environment and City Light's energy production.
  • The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, which is operated by the North Cascades Institute, and offers a variety of programs and workshops for adults, youth and families and a graduate program in environmental education.
  • The Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission, which receives ongoing administrative and technical support from City Light, invests more than $500,000 every year in environmental, recreational and educational projects.
From 2013 env rpt

Protecting Birds

City Light has developed an Avian Protection Program to reduce the risks to birds from the utility'enviro/ s facilities, particularly power lines. Bird-power line interactions are also one of the leading causes of power service disruption, reducing system reliability and increasing the cost of providing power.

Protecting Threatened Fish Species
City Light owns 2,700 acres of key spawning and rearing habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout in the Skagit and Tolt river drainages. Combined with wildlife habitat parcels, City Light now protects over 13,000 acres of land. In addition, City Light has constructed and contributed to significant habitat restoration projects in the Skagit and Tolt River basins.

Operating Efficiently
City Light continuously works to improve our waste reduction and recycling efforts. In addition, City Light has a Green Purchasing program designed to evaluate products we purchase based on environmental health and safety considerations. These programs not only benefit the environment but also save money for our customers.

Complying with Environmental Regulations
City Light is committed to high standards of environmental protection. City Light's environmental staff work closely with crews and project managers to ensure that construction and maintenance projects are designed to minimize environmental impacts, have the appropriate environmental permits, and include best management practices to protect nearby natural and cultural resources.

Removing PCBs
City Light has removed all transformers with known PCB concentrations greater than 46 parts per million(ppm) and has embarked on a project to systematically remove all transformers with 1.0 ppm or greater. This project involves replacing 1,500 transformers with known PCB levels and the testing of 18,000 transformers with unknown concentrations.

Cleaning up the Duwamish
City Light, along with Seattle Public Utilities, King County, the Port of Seattle, and the Boeing Company, is a member of the Lower Duwamish Waterway Group (LDWG), which leads the cleanup effort of the lower Duwamish River. The Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed cleanup plan in February 2013 and released their Record of Decision at the end of 2014.

The Terminal 117 cleanup site (T-117), located on the west bank of the Lower Duwamish Waterway in South Park, was a joint cleanup project by the Port of Seattle and City of Seattle. Cleanup of this site was completed in 2016 with the removal of PCBs and other contaminants from Streets and Residential Yards. During the cleanup, several community improvements were implemented, including planting trees, installing rain gardens and public art, adding sidewalks and underground drainage pipes, and more. To access specific information about the Terminal 117 cleanup, please submit a request through the City of Seattle Public Records Request Center.

Useful Links:

2014 Environment Report

Diablo Lake and Mountain


Fifth Graders Explore the Environment

Seattle City Light sponsors unique field trip

For more information: 206-684-3270
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