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.

Green Up Supports Renewable Energy with $1,000,000 in Grants

As one of the nation’s greenest utilities, Seattle City Light works hard to provide various ways customers can go green. Our Green Up program, which allows customers to support renewable energy development and education by paying an extra $3 or more on their utility bills, is a prime example of this. Since its inception in 2005, Green Up has been a popular customer choice, with nearly 18,000 participants in its lifetime.

Today, we’re proud to share that Green Up will support renewable energy projects and education programs at schools, public institutions and nonprofit organizations by providing $1,000,000 in grants, with $400,000 in 2017 and $600,000 in 2018. This is a significant marker for Green Up which previously distributed funds on an ad hoc basis with projects like Sonic Bloom at Pacific Science Center and solar residence halls at the University of Washington. Now, the program will provide direct grant funding for solar or other renewable energy installation and education projects in City Light’s service territory on a consistent funding cycle.

Education grants of up to $5,000 are intended to support projects that have a focus on educating students about renewable energy such a curriculum development, research, extracurricular activities, supplies and teacher training. Solar and innovation grants will focus on renewable energy installations by public, nonprofit and educational organizations. Most awards are expected to range from $25,000 – $50,000, with the maximum grant at $200,000.

For additional information, including application deadlines and program requirements, click here.

A Cleaner Energy Future Through New Markets

Seattle City Light General Manager & CEO Larry Weis stated the utility’s intention to prepare to join the Energy Imbalance Market managed by the California Independent System Operator (ISO) beginning in April 2019. The Seattle City Council approved the action on Oct. 31 and Weis signed the ISO’s implementation agreement Dec. 9. As part of the City Council’s approval, City Light staff are required to provide the Council with a more detailed briefing in 2017 that includes the analysis of costs, benefits, and potential risks of participation to support the Council’s decision about its participation in the market.

“Seattle City Light has preliminarily evaluated the Energy Imbalance Market from an environmental, commercial, and reliability perspective and I believe City Light’s participation can deliver benefits to our customers in all three areas,” Weis said. “Participation in the Energy Imbalance Market is the best use of our resources and our employees’ expertise to extend our support for a clean energy economy across the West. This is the first in a number of steps to better integrate large-scale renewable resources in the West, and a new tool in our tool belt to address climate change and set the foundation for a cleaner energy future.”

The Energy Imbalance Market provides reliability and renewable resource integration benefits to the West while providing economic benefits to City Light customers. It is an automated, real-time wholesale energy market that matches the lowest cost electricity supply with demand every 5 and 15 minutes. Large quantities of sometimes-intermittent renewable power generation, such as wind and solar, are then more effectively integrated than they could be otherwise. The market also provides City Light with additional tools to better manage the power grid.

“To create a clean energy economy across the West, no one state can go-it-alone,” Weis said. “We all need to work together to decrease carbon emissions and the Energy Imbalance Market is a step in doing so cost-effectively.”

Seattle will join active participants PacifiCorp, NV Energy, Arizona Public Service, Puget Sound Energy and future participants Portland General Electric and Idaho Power as utilities participating in the ISO’s Energy Imbalance Market.

Seattle City Light Named an Environmental Champion

Seattle City Light has been named a 2016 Environmental Champion by Cogent Reports.

The award is based on the results from Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Residential, a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International.

City Light was one of the highest rated utilities in the study, which looked at electric, natural gas and combination utilities.

In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the nation to reach carbon neutral status. We have the longest-running energy conservation program in the country. We are actively involved in protecting fish and wildlife. And we promote renewable energy development.

Center City Connector Streetcar recommended for $75 million grant

re-posted from the Mayor’s blog

Last week the City of Seattle’s Center City Connector Streetcar Project was recommended for a $75 million grant in President Obama’s 2017 Budget. The project would link the existing South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcar lines, creating a system that would connect over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods in Seattle’s Center City.

If approved by Congress, this $75 million grant would be one of the largest federal grants the City has received for a transportation project in recent history.

“Seattle thanks President Obama and our Congressional delegation for the incredible support so far for downtown transit,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We look forward to working with our supporters in Congress to change how downtown residents, workers and visitors move around the urban core. With a dedicated lane for the new streetcar, as well as connections to existing streetcar lines and transit hubs, the Center City Connector would deliver frequent, reliable service for thousands of riders every day.”

By linking existing streetcar investments, the Center City Connector is designed to provide a seamless streetcar system that will serve major visitor destinations, employment centers, and areas where the city is experiencing significant growth. The fully integrated system is projected to carry up to 30,000 average weekday riders.

Once completed, the Connector will serve Seattle’s three intermodal hubs at Westlake, Colman Dock and King Street Station. The system would provide convenient transfers to the Third Avenue Transit Spine at both ends of Downtown, to Link Light Rail via multiple Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel station entries, and to Sounder Commuter Rail at King Street Station.

The project would:

  • Address current and future mobility needs for residents, workers and tourists
  • Meet the growth in demand for Center City circulation trips
  • Address constraints on expansion of Center City transportation
  • Provide affordable transportation access to key social and human services located in the Center City
  • Mitigate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from vehicles and traffic congestion

Additional information about the Center City Connector can be found here:  http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/centercity.htm.