Seattle City (spot)Light: Christoper Giulini

Christopher Giulini’s professional skills have taken him from coast to coast over the last two decades, but he has found a home as a forward power marketer at Seattle City Light for the last five years.  Chris is originally from New Jersey, and he obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York City.

In this week’s Seattle City (spot)Light, Chris talks about how he got into power marketing and the appeal of Seattle City Light for him.

 Forward Power Marketer Christopher Giulini on his favorite ride

“I always thought I would end up on Wall Street. I interned at the American Stock Exchange and chose a university that was seven blocks north of it. I used to go down to Wall Street on my lunch between classes, because I’m a nerd like that. But my first job was in Greenwich, Connecticut…11 days after my college graduation. I graduated on a Saturday, saw an ad in the New York Times on Monday, had an interview on Thursday and started trading on the next Tuesday,” said Christopher.

“During my career I’ve moved around a lot; in fact, my job at City Light is the first time I’ve been somewhere long enough to renew my ID. After I started trading in Connecticut, I moved to San Diego with the same company before relocating to the Portland area. I was in Portland for three years before I got recruited to a company in Orange County, which later relocated me to Houston. After that company decided they didn’t want to be in North American power any more, I came to Seattle City Light. I’m one of two forward power marketers for the utility; my work partner is Cory Anderson, and he has the same job responsibilities.”

“As a forward power marketer, I ensure on a forward-looking basis that the utility has a semi-balanced portfolio. I look forward 24 months out starting with the prompt month, which is the next full month ahead. I examine hydro conditions, weather conditions, natural gas prices and other macro perspectives of what is going on the Pacific Northwest so we can protect our ratepayers from unknowns in the region. We keep our rates very competitive.”

“I market capacity products to other utilities and transmission, which is basically space on our power lines. I sell to other partners in the Bonneville Power Administration’s system, including neighboring utilities in the Pacific Northwest all the way up into Canada. I also trade with a lot of shops out of Houston, the epicenter of the energy industry. I trade Mid-C, which is short for Mid-Columbia Hydro System. It’s the most actively-traded physical market in this country for power; real megawatts coming from a real power plant to meet a real load.”

“I’m at my desk by 6:15 a.m. every morning. I sit down, look at the markets and start IM’ing with voice brokers. A voice broker is just like a realtor; they know what City Light is selling and what others are buying, and they match us up. In the time that I would take to call everyone, brokers already know who is doing what. City Light has very flexible resources. We own our own generation and that brings lots of flexibility. We are able to structure very interesting deals, which is something private companies can’t do.”

“I’m married with two kids. We’re on the east side and we’re fortunate enough to live in Issaquah. The public schools there just blow us away. The area is vibrant and growing. I love that the air quality is always great in the Pacific Northwest, even in downtown Seattle. My family really enjoys camping around Deception Pass and the Salem, Oregon area.”

“I also like motorcycles. I have an old Honda barn find and a Ducati. I used to ride a lot more than I do today!”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Lynne Smith

Lynne Smith is a relatively new member of the City Light team, now in her sixth month at the utility. She has a bachelor’s degree in math and French from Whitworth University and got into the energy industry on the private side first, working at a company in Bellevue. In this week’s Seattle City (spot)Light, Lynne tells us about her unusual job in power marketing and how City Light’s work reflects her values.

Power Marketer Lynne Smith rockclimbing on Mt. Garfield near Snoqualmie Pass

“Power Marketing buys and sells power every hour as we watch the water levels of all of our hydroelectric projects. I work with our partners in the Bonneville Power Administration on the Columbia River, monitoring it to make sure the water levels and fish flows are where we need to be. Every hour, power marketing assesses where we are with different dams and decides how much power we are going to generate. Then our real time power marketer will buy or sell depending on whether or not we have extra.”

“City Light has a load that needs to be served and that determines our load forecast to satisfy. We can match our generation exactly to our load, or we can generate more than our load. If there is too much water behind the dams and we generate more, or if power prices in the market are cheaper than what it would cost us to run our water, we might sell or buy power,” said Lynne.

“Power marketing has forward marketers that look ahead and try to put us in a good position by balancing what we need. As we get closer to real time, their forecasts get more and more accurate. We’re in an hourly market, so each hour you need to have a set of balanced schedules. Our dispatchers run our water flow and watch our load to the second to make sure it is always balanced.”

“City Light has a portion of federal power generated from the Columbia River. We take a percentage of what is generated there and I manage it by telling the real time power marketer how much power we are going to use from that system.”

“I’m from Seattle, so I like working for my hometown electric utility. I’m also a mountaineer and a climber… Mainly rock climbing. Being really careful and accurate with what you’re doing is very important in mountaineering. You always doublecheck your knots and observe safety protocols, no matter how confident you are in your skills. It’s kind of like making a power schedule every hour. You always need to pay attention, even if you’ve been doing it right for a long time. All it takes is one mistake to have serious consequences.”

“I like that City Light has so much hydropower, and that we get to spend so much time looking at the Skagit River in the North Cascades. It seems common in the energy industry to not worry about conservation. A lot of people are at City Light because it is a greener utility and they care. Since City Light has these great hydroelectric resources, we don’t have to say ‘it’s just business; we burn gas and we burn coal because we don’t have a choice.’ We are lucky where we are situated and with the resources that we have.”