Seattle City Light Supports Renegotiation of Columbia River Treaty

Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River — Photo by US Bureau of Reclamation

Seattle City Light is pleased by an announcement that the United States and Canada will begin negotiations in 2018 to modernize the landmark Columbia River Treaty, which has supported hydropower operations, flood control, irrigation, municipal water use, navigation and recreation on the international river since 1964.

“We’re thankful to the Pacific Northwest congressional delegation for their support in getting Columbia River Treaty negotiations started with Canada, American Indian tribes and Canadian First Nations,” City Light’s Interim Power Supply Officer Robert Cromwell said. “It’s time to modernize the operations of the Columbia River for power, flood control and address important ecosystem functions.”

Under the existing treaty, river users in the United States, including hydroelectric dam operators such as the Bonneville Power Administration, pay Canada for power production and flood control support provided by their reservoirs. The U.S. electric utilities and agencies covered by the treaty believe they are paying too much for that power production and flood control support.

City Light supports the regional recommendation that was submitted to the U.S. State Department in 2013. It calls for:

  • Better address the region’s interest in a reliable and economically sustainable hydropower system and reflect a more reasonable assessment of the value of coordinated power operations with Canada;
  • Continue to provide a similar level of flood risk management to protect public safety and the region’s economy;
  • Include ecosystem-based function as one of the primary purposes of the treaty; and
  • Create flexibility within the Treaty to respond to climate change, changing water supply needs and other potential future changes in system operations while continuing to meet authorized purposes such as navigation and irrigation.

Such changes could reduce Seattle City Light’s costs for the electricity it buys from BPA by $9 million to $11 million per year.

More details about the regional recommendation are available here.

Seattle City Light, BPA, EPRI to Host Data Center Efficiency Workshop

Seattle City Light, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and the Electric Power research Institute (EPRI) are conducting a workshop March 10 that will explain how to provide a reliable, more efficient operating environment for data centers and IT equipment rooms that could reduce an entire building’s electric costs by 5 to 10 percent.

Data Center and IT equipment rooms are often one of the largest energy uses in a commercial building.  Even a small server room, can consume more than half the electricity used in a commercial building.

Often the cooling systems in these facilities use more power than the IT equipment itself.  Poor air management in these rooms also reduces the reliability of the cooling equipment which can lead to equipment failure.

The workshop at the Museum of Flight in Seattle brings together data center operators, utilities, and industry players to explore the challenges that face modern data centers in cooling, with a focus on efficient airflow management. Experts will share insight into best-practices for airflow management in data centers. Essential tools to build a business case for these solutions will be provided. In addition, a panel of utility participants will delve into the impact and success of utility incentive programs for energy efficiency, and how the measurement and verification process for incentives can be streamlined for these measures.

A detailed agenda and registration are available online via the EPRI website. The cost is $50.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Seattle City Light, BPA, EPRI to Host Data Center Efficiency Workshop

Seattle City Light, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and the Electric Power research Institute (EPRI) are conducting a workshop March 10 that will explain how to provide a reliable, more efficient operating environment for data centers and IT equipment rooms that could reduce an entire building’s electric costs by 5 to 10 percent.

Data Center and IT equipment rooms are often one of the largest energy uses in a commercial building.  Even a small server room, can consume more than half the electricity used in a commercial building.

Often the cooling systems in these facilities use more power than the IT equipment itself.  Poor air management in these rooms also reduces the reliability of the cooling equipment which can lead to equipment failure.

The workshop at the Museum of Flight in Seattle brings together data center operators, utilities, and industry players to explore the challenges that face modern data centers in cooling, with a focus on efficient airflow management. Experts will share insight into best-practices for airflow management in data centers. Essential tools to build a business case for these solutions will be provided. In addition, a panel of utility participants will delve into the impact and success of utility incentive programs for energy efficiency, and how the measurement and verification process for incentives can be streamlined for these measures.

A detailed agenda and registration are available online via the EPRI website. The cost is $50.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Northwest Lawmakers Highlight Importance of Columbia River Treaty

 About 40 percent of the electricity Seattle City Light delivers to its customers comes from the Bonneville Power Administration and its hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. That’s why Seattle City Light is thankful for the 26 members of Congress from the Pacific Northwest who crafted a letter to President Obama highlighting the importance for consumers of renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty with Canada. 

Read the news release issued by the congressional delegation below.

26 Northwest Lawmakers Highlight the Importance of the Columbia River Treaty

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Press Obama Administration for Local Input in Treaty’s Future

Washington, D.C. – Today, all 26 lawmakers representing Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho urged President Obama to make the future of the 1964 Columbia River Treaty a priority for 2014. In a letter led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), and House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the 26 lawmakers highlighted the importance of the Columbia River Treaty and asked the Administration to take direct action on this issue by mid-year 2014, as called for in a recent regional recommendation led by the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It is essential that the Administration now advance this work through discussions with Canada to ensure that a post-2024 Treaty better reflects the interests of our constituents in the region and the United States as a whole. As you convene an Interagency Policy Committee on the Recommendation, we draw your attention to the Recommendation’s clear call for a decision and action by the Administration on this matter by mid-year,” wrote Members in the letter.

Members also underscored the importance of the Obama Administration to be open and transparent in the treaty negotiations with Canada and for the Administration to consider input from Northwest lawmakers and regional stakeholders as the process moves forward.

“The Columbia River provides significant economic and cultural benefits to our region and how it is managed through the Treaty will have major impacts into the future. Therefore, it is important that you remain in regular and close communication with the Pacific Northwest Congressional Delegation during the Interagency Policy Committee process and keep us apprised of potential negotiations with Canada. In addition, we encourage the Administration to remain open to input from and engagement with concerned regional stakeholders, many of whom have valuable expertise in managing the Columbia River and played an integral role in developing the Recommendation.”

For fifty years, the Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada has provided the framework for coordinated hydropower generation and flood control on the Columbia River system.  Starting this year, either side can seek to terminate the Treaty with ten years notice, prompting a renewed look at the Treaty in the United States and Canada. The regional review led by the Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resulted in the “Regional Recommendation for the Future of the Columbia River Treaty after 2024,” which was delivered to the Administration for further action in December 2013. (To view the “Regional Recommendation for the Future of the Columbia River Treaty after 2024,” click here.)

Click here to view the letter.

The full list of signatories is below:

U.S. Senate: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

U.S. House: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Derek Kilmer  (D-WA), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rep. Dave Reichert  (R-WA), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)