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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: City Light First in Nation to Reach Zero Net Emissions Goal

11/9/2005  10:15:00 AM
Scott Thomsen  (206) 386-4233

City Light First in Nation to Reach Zero Net Emissions Goal
Milestone part of mayor’s effort to make Seattle
a leader in fight against warming

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels announced today that City Light has become the first large electric utility in the country to effectively eliminate its contribution of harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the environment.

The utility’s goal of “zero net emissions” is a key element of the mayor’s effort to make Seattle a leader in combating global warming and meeting the goals of the Kyoto Protocol.

“Seattle has a long history of being a leader when it comes to protecting the environment,” Nickels said. “This is just the kind of bold and meaningful action that proves we can make a big difference in our region and around the world.”

City Light reached its unprecedented target by working with other organizations, such as King County Metro and Washington State Ferries, to reduce emissions and thereby offset greenhouses gasses associated with the utility.

“We are setting new environmental standards for our industry,” said City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. “This is a proud day for the utility and the people who own it - the citizens of Seattle.”

The final step came today when City Light signed a contract to purchase greenhouse-gas emissions offsets from Du Pont Fluorochemicals of Wilmington, Del. Natsource, a company that helps parties structure transactions for environmental commodities, arranged the transaction between City Light and Du Pont Fluorochemicals. Under the contract with Du Pont Fluorochemicals, City Light will purchase 300,000 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions offsets. Combined with other offset contracts, it brings City Light to its net-zero emissions goal.

“DuPont applauds Seattle City Lights’ leadership and commitment to address global climate change,” said Jennifer Hooper, DuPont Climate Change and Emissions Trading Leader. “We are pleased to support their efforts to become climate neutral through the sale of greenhouse gas offsets. DuPont supports the use of market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading to facilitate emissions reductions at the lowest cost to society."

Since 2000, City Light has been working to meet all new electrical demand with cost-effective conservation and renewable resources. At that time, the Seattle City Council also set the long-term goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions. City Light emissions come from power purchases and operations, including the use of vehicles and heating of facilities.

In 2003, City Light signed its first greenhouse gas offset contract with Climate Trust, which reduced emissions in cement manufacture by promoting the use of substitute materials such as fly ash during production. In 2004, City Light launched a biodiesel program that paid for the use of the cleaner-burning fuel in several local vehicle fleets - buses, garbage hauling equipment, and City vehicles.

City Light also purchases offsets from Princess Cruise ships that have switched from using diesel engines to using electricity while docked at Seattle’s waterfront.

City Light estimates it will emit about 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005. The contract with Du Pont Fluorochemicals brings City Light’s offsets to about 350,000 metric tons. The extra will cover the utility if actual 2005 emissions are higher and can be used toward offsetting 2006 emissions.

City Light’s greenhouse-gas mitigation ties into Mayor Nickels’s environmental vision for Seattle. So far, 182 mayors from around the country have signed on to Nickels’ climate protection challenge to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their own communities.

“As a city government, we’ve already cut our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60% compared to 1990 levels,” Nickels said. “But it’s not enough - we need to work together as a community to set responsible limits on global warming pollution.”

Seattle City Light's hydroelectric projects on the Skagit and Pend Oreille Rivers provide about half of the power its customers need. The remainder comes from a mix of power sources, including long-term contracts with the Bonneville Power Administration, the Klamath Falls cogeneration project, the Stateline Wind Project and others.

View a timeline of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program - Adobe PDF 12 kb

Read a fact sheet about the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program - Adobe PDF 13 kb

Visit the mayor’s web site at Get the mayor’s inside view on initiatives to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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