Fog Covered Skyline
Seattle City Light DEBRA SMITH, General Manager and CEO
The Nation’s Greenest Utility
Pay My Bill   

Greenest Means

With more than 90 percent of Seattle’s electricity generated from clean, hydroelectric power, it means something. It means we all enjoy low rates, and we can hold our chins high knowing that our electricity is 100% carbon neutral.

Here’s what others are saying about our clean hydroelectricity and 100% carbon neutrality:

NPR: Seattle Tackles Greenhouse Gases

Seattle PI: No Global Warming at City Light

Business Week: Another Inconvenient Truth (spurred some interesting dialog on the issue, but we stand by the benefits of being carbon-neutral)

Need more proof?

City Light Carbon Neutrality

In 2005, City Light became the first electric utility in the country to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions. It has maintained that carbon neutral status every year since.

City Light achieved carbon neutrality by divesting ownership in a coal-fired plant and other fossil fuel projects, investing in renewables and increasing our long-standing energy efficiency programs.  For the remaining emissions that we are unable to eliminate from our operations, the utility invested in carbon offsets.  City Light was able to undertake these major operational changes while maintaining an affordable and reliable power system.  In addition to achieving carbon neutrality, the utility has adopted an integrated resource plan that relies on only new renewables and energy efficiency to meet future load growth.

City Light uses greenhouse gas offsets registered with the Climate Action Reserve and other third party organizations to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.

Seattle City Light uses hydroelectric resources for 90 percent of the power it provides to about 1 million people in the greater Seattle area. But that important resource is also one of the primary reasons City Light takes the additional climate action step of offsetting all its greenhouse gas emissions, including those created by the generation of electricity the utility buys, employees’ travel and the trucks and other equipment used in its operations.

Seattle City Light’s hydroelectric dams depend upon mountain snowpack to store water for generating electricity throughout the summer. Climate change that brings more precipitation as rain or starts the melt-off earlier in the spring would threaten the utility’s ability to generate the electricity it needs to serve its customers in late summer.   

Each year, City Light offsets 100,000 to 300,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, depending on how much electricity the utility has been able to generate from its hydroelectric resources and how much it has to rely on market power purchases.

Among the projects Seattle City Light has purchased carbon offsets from are:

  • Biodiesel fuel for Seattle area busses, ferries and garbage trucks
  • Shore power for cruise ships at the Port of Seattle
  • Aerobic composting of local food and yard waste
  • Methane recapture and destruction at dairy farms and landfills.

Low Impact Hydropower
SCL’s Skagit Project is the largest project in the nation to receive Low Impact Hydro certification.  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) is a non-profit with a governing board consisting of both river and environmental advocates including American Rivers, the National Wildlife Foundation and the Nature Conservancy.  It was created:
to reduce the impacts of hydropower dams through market incentives. LIHI does this through its Hydropower Certification Program, a voluntary certification program designed to help identify and reward hydropower dams that are minimizing their environmental impacts.
Like third-party certification of forestry operations or organic farms, the concept is that each project seeking certification must demonstrate that it meets a high standard of environmental performance.

LIHI worked with environmental and industry stakeholders to develop a set of eight criteria that each facility must meet in order to be certified. These include river flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watershed protection, threatened and endangered species protection, cultural resource protection, recreation, and facilities recommended for removal.  The LIHI Governing Board voted unanimously to certify the Skagit project in 2003, a certification that was valid for five years. LIHI accepted an application for re-certification in 2008, opening a 60-day public comment period. LIHI staff interviewed stakeholders, tribes and agencies to ensure that SCL was meeting the requirements for certification.  LIHI also received one comment in support of the project during that time.  The Skagit project was recertified for an additional 8 years.   

SCL’s LIHI certification exemplifies good stewardship of the Skagit Project and the continued support by agencies, tribes, non profits and other stakeholders of our environmental protection standards and achievements. 

Related Content

Environment Report
City Light's Environmental Accomplishments and Goals

Energy Conservation
Energy efficiency services to sustain our environment

Renewable Energy
Promoting renewable energy that's good for the environment

Our Environmental commitment
We stand for environmental stewardship

contact us

Contact a City Light Energy Advisor by email or phone (206) 684-3800.


Seattle City Light makes it easy and affordable for you to upgrade your lighting.


  • Contact Seattle City Light

    700 5th Avenue
    Suite 3200
    P.O. Box 34023
    Seattle, WA 98124-4023

    Account & General Questions:

    Contact Us