Our new strategic plan to keep delivering essential services, controlling costs, and fighting climate change

The Seattle area is growing and evolving – and Seattle City Light is poised to respond.

Over the past several months, we’ve worked with Mayor Jenny Durkan to develop a new six-year Strategic Plan that reflects our shared priorities and addresses some of the challenges we face as a utility, like changing energy usage, declining retail energy consumption and an aging workforce.

To tackle those challenges, we’ve developed a plan that focuses on four priority areas:

  • Strategies to control costs, capture new revenues and restructure rates
  • Modernizing customer service
  • Promoting the efficient use of clean energy
  • And investments in infrastructure and the workforce to provide a consistent level of service, reliability and response.

To help control our costs, we responded to Mayor Durkan’s direction to all City departments to identify budget reductions from our proposed 2019-2020 proposed budget.

We will be reducing our operations and maintenance budget by 6 percent, beginning with an initial and permanent cut of $18 million in 2019.  Additionally, capital spending will be curtailed over the six-year plan by over $240 million – a 9 percent reduction. We’ll carefully manage these budget reductions to minimize future service impacts and financial risk through a rigorous capital prioritization framework, budget review and monitoring of performance metrics.

Even with such cost-saving measures, our costs to operate and maintain generation facilities, transmission lines and our distribution grid continue to rise. To account for those costs, we will need to make some changes to customer electricity rates.

In our planning process, we had initially proposed a plan that projected a 5.1 percent six-year average rate increase and included a 6.5 percent increase in retail rates in 2019 and 2020.

But Mayor Durkan was clear: She directed us to adjust our plan, to identify more areas where we could control costs and therefore reduce the impact on ratepayers. We did just that and developed a reduced budget proposal that incorporates a lower “rate path” over the six-year plan.

The new plan Mayor Durkan submitted to the City Council includes a lower electricity rate path with an average of 4.5 percent increases over the next six years. For a typical residential customer, those changes would amount to an $3.77 per month in the first year and less in subsequent years. Participants in the City’s Utility Discount Program would pay an additional $1.50 per month in the first year. And a small business, such as a coffee shop, could pay approximately an additional $42 per month in the first year.

What’s next?

Our proposed plan will be presented to a City Council Select Committee on June 14 and June 28. Then it will be considered by the full City Council.

Given our long history of innovation and visionary action, we are confident we will successfully navigate the challenges we face and reach new heights as we keep customers’ bills affordable and stable. We power Seattle, and we’re proud of it.

For more details, you can read our proposed Strategic Plan here.