City Light: Community Conversation with Univisión Seattle

Univisión Seattle hosts Teresa Gonzalez (left) and Jaime Méndez (middle) sat down with Jorge Carrasco (right), CEO and General Manager of Seattle City Light for a discussion of the Strategic Plan Update.

City Light CEO and General Manager Jorge Carrasco met with Teresa Gonzalez and Jaime Méndez of Univisión Seattle (KUNS-TV) for a Community Conversation, or Conversación con la Comunidad. The 30-minute segment originally aired last Saturday, March 29.  The Community Conversation will re-air on Univisión Seattle on Channel 51 this Saturday, April 5 at 11 p.m.

The Spanish-language Community Conversation marks Carrasco’s first appearance on Univisión and represents City Light’s commitment to community involvement, a founding element of the Strategic Plan. As a special guest, Carrasco reached out to Spanish-speaking customers and shared important information about our programs and future goals.

The Strategic Plan is City Light’s guide for making informed decisions to meet the current and future needs of its customers.  The utility is including stakeholders from diverse communities across its service area in direct town hall conversations to gather community input, reflect current issues and incorporate any necessary adjustments to the plan.

Questions from the Univisión audience demonstrated the broad spectrum of interests in the Seattle Latino community. Audience members asked about City Light resources, how the utility is planning for the future and its commitment to sustainable energy. The audience listened carefully to what it means to have a hydroelectric-based utility with more than 90 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources. A young student in the audience also asked what young people can do to make a difference in reducing their electric bills.

Carrasco took the opportunity to highlight specific projects being undertaken to improve customer service. He also shared information about the Utility Discount Program, which can save income-eligible customers up to 60 percent on their electric bill. City Light also created a Spanish-language Utility Discount Program website for customers.

In its second year of the six-year Strategic Plan, City Light exceeded expectations and is ambitiously raising the bar for the years to come. By 2018 City Light plans to reduce baseline costs by an ongoing $18 million per year, aggressively improving its safety record, expanding community engagement and environmental leadership, and strengthening its ability to meet the growing electricity needs of the customers it serves.

Town hall sessions such as this one with Univisión lead to greater engagement and input from our community members and customers. City Light is currently planning additional outreach through Seattle’s Azteca America network. The utility also recently reached out through a number of meetings in various languages to discuss our Strategic Plan Update and get feedback from the community.

“Seattle City Light, the Nation’s Greenest Utility, is committed to responsible stewardship of our natural resources and our rate-payer dollars, and doing that successfully demands transparency and accountability,” said Carrasco. “This blueprint outlines our path forward and is also our report card to the community on how we are doing.”

To learn more, please visit the Seattle City Light Strategic Plan website.



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Keeping the power on and the ospreys safe

In the ongoing saga between ospreys and City Light infrastructure near the Duwamish River, the birds have been getting the upper talon.

That could change this spring. When the ospreys return to take advantage of the easy fishing and tall power line towers for nesting, they will find a new set of barriers designed to protect the power lines and keep the birds safe. They will also find new nesting platforms nearby, where they can raise their chicks in peace.

This March, City Light crews installed adjustable, triangular covers on top of the crossbeams of the electrical towers spanning the Duwamish River, near our substation. In between the covers, workers installed rods with loose plastic pipes that roll when birds try to perch on them. The barriers will hopefully prevent osprey from perching on the crossbeams and being able to wedge sticks and other nest building materials into the tower.

The lines and jumpers below have also been wrapped with insulating sleeves to prevent power outages when nest materials fall and make contact.

“We will be checking the Duwamish towers periodically this spring, to evaluate the effectiveness of the exclusion devices and will check the nesting platforms to see if the ospreys are being accommodated, which should reduce the risk of them nesting on City Light structures where they can cause outages or be injured or killed,” said City Light Wildlife Biologist Ron Tressler, who oversees the project.

“Hopefully the exclusion devices and platforms will result in osprey leaving our towers alone but if they don’t work, we’ll be back there again for another try,” he said.

City Light and NB Power in New Brunswick, Canada, are the only two utilities in the world using these experimental nesting deterrents. The devices were designed and fabricated by Jim Kaiser of Osprey Solutions, a specialist hired by City Light to help with some of the osprey issues.

The birds arrive here in spring to take advantage of the salmon released by the Icy Creek Pond hatchery upstream. In their natural habitat, ospreys prefer to build their nests on the top of large snags or deformed trees near water.

But the Duwamish waterway is an industrial corridor where the tallest bare structures are light poles, communications towers and other artificial structures. So those sites are being used by the increasing population of ospreys. Even thin light poles are suitable – ospreys can build a nest on as little as one square foot of space, according to Kaiser. There are approximately 12 nesting pairs in the lower Duwamish.

The City Light towers on the Duwamish, besides serving as a tempting nesting surface, also carry several major electrical feeders that supply critical Boeing infrastructure. Over the years, ospreys have caused periodic outages, affecting Boeing’s operations.

In the past six years, osprey pairs have also nested on light poles at the Insurance Auto Auction lot on East Marginal Way, near the Duwamish River towers, and on a communications tower in the Sound Transit operations and maintenance facility near East Airport Way. Since the last nesting season, the company who owns the tower has installed exclusion devices to prevent osprey from nesting there in the future. Because these birds will return and likely try to find an alternate nest site on one of our nearby poles, City Light crews installed two new, safer platforms for the ospreys to nest and raise their young.

All of these efforts are part of City Light’s Avian Protection Program, which monitors incidents with birds and implements measures to keep the animals safe and the electrical equipment operating.

City Light Addresses Strategic Plan Updates on KUNS-TV (Univision) Sat., March 29 at 6 p.m.

Univision hosts Teresa Gonzalez (left) Jaime Méndez (middle) welcomed City Light’s General Manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco (right) to a TV town hall to talk about the Strategic Plan Update.

Tune in Saturday, March 29, at 6 p.m. to KUNS-TV (Univision) and learn about Seattle City Light’s Strategic Plan Update. Jorge Carrasco, City Light’s general manager and CEO, served as a special guest joining a “Community Conversation” for 30 minutes entirely in Spanish. Community involvement is a founding element of City Light’s Strategic Plan. Carrasco leads by example by reaching out to our Spanish-speaking customers to provide them with important information about our programs and goals for the future.

The Strategic Plan is a blueprint for making informed decisions to meet customers’ current and future needs and the Strategic Plan update is an opportunity to gather further community input, reflect current conditions and incorporate necessary adjustments.

City Light proudly exceeded expectations in the second year of its six-year Strategic Plan and ambitiously raises the bar for years to come. By 2018, City Light’s goal is to reduce baseline costs by an ongoing $18 million per year, aggressively improve its safety record, expand community engagement and environmental leadership, and strengthen our ability to meet customer’s electricity needs.

“Most importantly, the Strategic Plan is about fulfilling our commitment to transparency and accountability.” said Carrasco. “This blueprint outlines our path forward and is also our report card to the community on how we are doing.”

Stay informed and learn more this Saturday on KUNS-TV (Channel 51) and read about our Strategic Plan Update.