Four Ways to Stay Cool This Fourth of July

There’s nothing better than Seattle in the summertime. But with temperatures approaching 80 degrees this Fourth of July, you may be looking for ways to beat the heat. Here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy* on how to keep cool and conserve energy without breaking the bank! Check out this month’s issue of Light Reading for more innovative ways to conserve energy this summer from planting a tree to using your slow cooker. Click here to take a look!

Seattle City Light Named Environmental Champion for Fourth Consecutive Year

Each year, Market Strategies International runs the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement Survey (.pdf) for its Cogent Reports. The survey spans the markets of 131 residential electric, natural gas and electric/gas combination utilities across four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. For the fourth year in a row, the survey results led to City Light being named an Environmental Champion.

To be designated an Environmental Champion, a utility must facilitate consumption management, enable environmental causes, encourage environmentally friendly fleets and buildings, and generally show its customers a dedication to promoting clean energy. These traits comprise the survey’s Environmental Dedication Index. City Light was one of the highest-rated utilities in the study, scoring second in the West region on the survey index.

In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the nation to reach carbon neutral status. The utility is actively involved in protecting fish and wildlife, promotes renewable energy development and has the longest-running energy conservation program in the country.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Darrin Kinney

Distribution System Planner Darrin Kinney has been part of City Light’s Energy Delivery Engineering group for four years. “We determine the need for new substations, new infrastructure, the deferral of projects, those types of things, “Darrin explained. “We also develop small-area load forecasts. This helps us determine the future performance of the distribution grid which enables us to develop long-term plans for the expansion or reconfiguration of the system.”

A California native, Darrin grew up in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Yosemite National Park. He attended Fresno State University and graduated with an electrical engineering degree. He lives in Snoqualmie with his wife Lisa and their five-year-old daughter Jessica. “My wife and I refer to ourselves as ‘climate refuges’ which is how we ended up in this area,” Darrin shared. “We just got tired of the heat!”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Darrin talks about his role at City Light and his upbringing.

Darrin with his wife and daughter

“In college, I had an emphasis in communications and worked in that field for some time. I designed radios and other things. The small company I was working for went out of business, so I did a complete pivot and opened a motorcycle shop. I ran that for four years. We rented out Harleys, jet skis—all the toys. During that time, a repeat customer with whom I had started to develop a friendship died in a motorcycle crash. After that, I lost my interest in the business and returned to engineering. I worked at Southern California Edison for six years as a distribution planner. Originally, I got started in energy efficiency, but there was an opening in distribution planning. It piqued my interest, so I applied and that’s how I ended up in this specialty. I get a lot of satisfaction in optimizing projects and making sure that whatever the utility builds gets the best bang for the buck, so to speak. As a planner, you must be knowledgeable about everything.”

“I grew up differently from a lot of people. We lived on the very edge of the grid—as far as you could be while still being on the grid—in a little place called Shaver Lake. My nearest friend was a mile away. Our house was backed up against Sierra National Forest which gave me a backyard of 10,000 acres. I did a lot of fishing, camping and riding my ATC. My father was an engineer for Hewlett Packard and after a difficult project he said, ‘The heck with this! We’re moving to the mountains.’ So, we did. We left San Jose and headed straight to the mountains.”

“I play slide blues guitar. I learn songs from the old greats like Skip James and Charlie Patton. I also love the outdoors. Fly fishing is one of my favorite hobbies; I love that we have awesome fly fishing a few minutes from my home. We love to go camping. We’re still learning the area, but really liked Ocean Shores. That’s another reason why we wanted to move here. We felt like we had seen it all and done it all in California. We were ready for a new place to explore. We wanted an adventure; new places to discover. There are still so many activities I want to try. I want to go deep sea fishing. I want to climb Rainier. We just got Jessica her passport so we’re looking to spend some time in Canada. Basically, do all the outdoor activities that attracted us here in the first place!”

Seattle City Light Continues to Meet I-937 Requirements

Seattle City Light continues to meet the renewable energy and energy conservation requirements of the Energy Independence Act, passed by Washington State voters in 2006 as Initiative 937.

The law establishes increasing standards for the share of state utilities’ energy portfolios to come from new, renewable resources, such as wind, solar and biomass. It also sets energy conservation goals for utilities.

Washington’s standards are among the most aggressive in the country because they do not count any renewable energy resources that were developed before 1997. About 90 percent of the electricity City Light delivers to its customers comes from long-held renewable hydroelectric resources. Most of it does not count toward meeting the state’s requirements because our dams and those owned by the Bonneville Power Administration (which we buy power from) were built before 1997. Enhancements, such as generator rebuilds that expand our dams’ capacity, do count.

By the end of 2017, state utilities are required to meet 9 percent of retail sales from eligible renewable resources. City Light will meet that requirement with a combination of wind, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric efficiency upgrades and landfill gas resources and reported its compliance to the Washington State Department of Commerce in May.

Looking ahead, City Light has contracts in place for additional new, renewable energy resources to meet the 15 percent portfolio requirement that takes effect in 2020.

On the energy efficiency side of the law, City Light has a two-year goal to achieve 224,431 megawatt-hours of energy savings by the end of 2017. City Light accomplished 60 percent of that goal, or 134,846 megawatt-hours, in 2016 alone and is well on its way to meeting the target.

The energy efficiency investments City Light makes save customers millions of dollars over the life of the upgrades, such as LED lighting, ductless heat pumps, energy efficient appliances and weatherization.

Seattle City Light Begins Advanced Metering Upgrade

SEATTLE – Seattle City Light began upgrading existing electricity meters today with advanced meters that will enhance services for customers and help the publicly owned utility operate more efficiently.

Senior Customer Service Representative Joanna Perley does a quality assurance check on a newly-installed advanced meter.

“Today’s installation is a big step toward modernizing the service Seattle City Light provides its customers,” City Light Customer Care Director Kelly Enright said. “Upgrading our metering technology will put more power into our customers’ hands so they can better manage their energy use and it will empower our employees to provide even better service.”

City Light will replace more than 420,000 meters across its service territory by the end of 2018.

The new meters will provide more accurate billing by eliminating the estimated reads currently used to generate a bill when a meter reader is unable to access a customer’s meter or complete a route. Once the Advanced Metering data is connected to other utility computer systems, power outages will be reported automatically and customers will be able to access their energy use information online. The new meters also create opportunities for additional enhancements in the future, such as account balance alerts, monthly billing and optional time-of-use rates to support electric vehicle charging.

“Advanced Metering will be good for the environment too,” Enright said. “Eliminating the need to send a meter reader to your home or business cuts out 200,000 miles of driving and 72 tons of carbon emissions.”

There is no charge for a customer to receive an advanced meter. City Light will provide three notifications before exchanging an existing meter with an advanced meter. A letter will be sent about six weeks ahead of the exchange. A post card will be sent about two weeks before the exchange. And an automated phone call will be made one to three days before the installation.

Customers who do not wish to participate in Advanced Metering can opt out of the program. Fees will apply. For more information, visit