Seattle City (spot)Light: Melissa Skelton

Melissa Skelton has been at City Light for three and a half years. She initially served as a Legal Affairs Advisor on a small team in the General Manager’s Office, but now works in Regulatory Affairs as a strategic advisor. “I love my job. I’m in the right place at the right time,” Melissa said. “My work centers around monitoring regulatory policy issues and dockets at the federal regulatory level for matters associated with transmission and wholesale sales of power.  So, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is my main ballpark, where we look at high-level issues that affect the entire utility and engage City Light as necessary.”

Melissa was born in Washington D.C. but spent most of her life in Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas (go Jayhawks!) and earned a degree in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology. “With my ecology background, it really matters to me how City Light interacts with our environment,” Melissa shared. “Everything we do (or don’t do) affects every other living thing on this planet.”

After college, she took the legal route and attended Washburn University School of Law. Melissa and her husband Joshua relocated to Seattle in 2014 and welcomed their first child, Malcolm, two years later. This past February, they welcomed their second son, Conrad.

In this week’s (spot)Light, Melissa talks about the joys of being a mother, running with elk and sailing around the world.

 

Melissa with her family.

“I love trying new things. I love to cook and travel. I like to hike, go to hot yoga, anything active. I also enjoy reading, being part of book clubs, all those types of things. What’s cool is that Joshua and I incorporate our kids into the things we like. We bought a double jogging stroller, so we take them out when we go for a run or take them hiking. We can still do a lot of the things we love and show them what we love.”

“Right now, I’m focused on running. I’m training for a 10k in September and excited to have a reason to train. It’s also helping me get back in shape after having our second baby. There are two places where I love to run. One is Meadowbrook Farm. It’s right at the base of Mount Si. It has beautiful views. There’s a big elk herd out there; you can often see them in the early morning hours. It’s neat to be out there with your thoughts and nature and run next to elk. How cool is that? The other place I like to run is Snoqualmie which is where I live. We have some bears in the neighborhood behind us. They’re black bears so they’re not aggressive but there is a mom with two babies, so you must be careful. I have a pretty fast pace when I run in the evenings around there!”

“I was fortunate to do the Semester at Sea program when I was in college, which is a semester aboard a ship sailing to ten locations all around the world. We started in Vancouver, then went to Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Croatia, Turkey, Italy, and Morocco before ending back in Miami. It was an amazing opportunity and opened my eyes to issues around the world. I’m looking forward to international travel again in the future (once the boys are out of diapers!).”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Scott Richter

Office Aide Scott Richter has worked at City Light for 20 years. As part of the Safety, Health and Wellness team, Scott helps to manage the day-to-day duties of the division.  “I’m responsible for a lot of the filing, office supply maintenance and mail deliveries,” Scott explained. “I also help with CLEA and our archives.”

Originally from Mississippi, Scott moved to Washington with his family. He’s lived here for 30 years and currently resides in Federal Way. In this week’s (spot)Light, Scott talks about his journey at City Light and shares a few of his hobbies (hint: you can find him at the movies).

Scott on a recent trip to Disneyland

“I like going to the movies. I make recommendations to others and tell people what films they should and shouldn’t see. Right now, I’m excited to see Mamma Mia 2. I liked the first movie so much and am looking forward to the new one. The music is fun; I like musicals. I also like to watch TV and play my Nintendo Switch.”

“Canada is on my bucket list. My parents and sister have visited. I also want to check out the ‘Wings Over Washington’ ride at the pier. Within the past year, I took a trip to California and visited Disneyland. I hadn’t been there since I was seven. It was nice to see all the changes and visit two parks instead of one. While I was there, I got to ride ‘Soarin’ Around the World.’ It was interesting. I want to compare that attraction to ‘Wings Over Washington’ because it focuses on local scenery.”

“I’m a sports fan. I like it all. I’ve been watching the Seattle Storm. The Sounders are trying to win some games to get into the playoffs. The Mariners are struggling but I still watch them. I support all our local teams. Once a year, I’ll go to a game at Husky Stadium.”

“I was the City’s first supported employee. During my time here, I’ve been recognized with a Light, Power and Pride award for customer service. I wish other supported employees would receive the same recognition. I think some people forget what we do and how valuable we are. We bring many years of service; there are now more than 100 supported employees throughout the City. The program has grown a lot and I’ve come a long way since I was first hired. It’s been a long road, but I now have a strong support system. The people I work with check on me, on my job tasks. They know what I’m capable of doing. There was even a time when the team asked for my opinion about hiring another supported employee. I shared my advice and they took it. It’s a good feeling.”

Seattle City Light Submits 2019-2020 Rate Schedule to City Council

Seattle City Light submitted to the City Council today a rate schedule for the next two years that follows the directions Mayor Jenny Durkan gave us during development of our Strategic Plan, which was approved in June.

Mayor Durkan was clear: She directed City Light to identify more areas where we could control costs to reduce the impact on ratepayers. We did just that. Additionally, the mayor expects whomever is selected to become City Light’s next general manager and CEO later this year to continue to look at how to cut costs.

This 2019-2020 rate schedule is designed so that your nonprofit, community owned utility can collect just enough revenue to cover its operating expenses while addressing some of the challenges we face, such as changing energy usage, declining retail energy consumption and an aging workforce.

We will reduce our operations and maintenance budget by 6 percent, beginning with an initial and permanent cut of $18 million in 2019.  Additionally, we will cut capital spending over the next six years by over $240 million – a 9 percent reduction.

We’ll carefully manage these budget reductions to minimize future service impacts and financial risk through a rigorous capital prioritization framework, budget review and monitoring of performance metrics.

Even with such cost-saving measures, our costs to operate and maintain generation facilities, transmission lines and our distribution grid continue to rise. To account for those costs, we will need to make some changes to customer electricity rates.

In our planning process, we had initially proposed a plan that projected a 5.1 percent six-year average rate increase and included a 6.5 percent increase in retail rates in 2019 and 2020.

The plan Mayor Durkan submitted and the City Council approved includes a lower electricity rate path with an average of 4.5 percent increases over the next six years. For a typical residential customer, those changes would amount to an $3.77 per month in the first year and less in subsequent years. Participants in the City’s Utility Discount Program would pay an additional $1.50 per month in the first year. And a small business, such as a coffee shop, could pay approximately an additional $42 per month in the first year.

If approved by the City Council, the rate changes would go into effect Jan. 1.

Pilot Streetlight Project to Begin in Pioneer Square & Pike Place Market

Starting this August, Seattle City Light will be piloting a program to improve customer safety, reduce carbon emissions and conserve resources by installing LED streetlight fixtures in the downtown Seattle area. The new fixtures will be evaluated for appearance, historical integrity and light levels. City Light is inviting customers to provide their feedback on the pilot LED fixtures.

The utility is testing LED fixtures in the following areas:

  • Pioneer Square: 2nd Avenue South between South Washington and South Jackson streets
  • Pike Place Market: 1st Avenue and Pine Street


Benefits of the pilot project:

  • The new LED streetlights will enrich the quality of lighting, improve pedestrian and traffic safety, and maintain the historic nature of Seattle’s lighting districts.
  • LEDs reduce greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing as well as when they are in use. Additionally, about 20,000 tons of reduced carbon emissions per year are the result of fewer service vehicle trips.
  • The pilot program provides an opportunity for community feedback that may affect which fixture will be chosen.


What you can expect:

  • Maintenance power outages are not planned for this work.
  • Customers can expect some traffic impacts during the removal of existing streetlight fixtures and the installation of new LED fixtures. Parking may be impacted within the immediate area.
  • The test fixtures at Pine Street and 1st Avenue are temporary and will be removed at the end of the pilot project. The original globe fixtures will be reinstalled.
  • If the test fixtures at Pioneer Square are not approved, they will be scheduled for removal, following the decision by the Pioneer Square Preservation Board.
  • Once the data has been collected and presented, City Light will select an approved fixture. A replacement schedule will then be developed to address all globe streetlights in City Light’s service territory.


From August 15 – 31, customers can provide their feedback on the pilot fixtures by accessing the surveys below:

For more information, customers can contact Carol Anderson, Project Manager at (206) 733-9961 or carolj.anderson@seattle.gov.

Visit seattle.gov/light/atwork for the latest updates on these projects and others in your neighborhood.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Eugene Haller

Sr. Compliance Analyst Eugene Haller has been at City Light for two and a half years. As part of the Regulatory Affairs division, Eugene helps ensure that the utility is following government regulations. “There are quite a few regulations that are put out by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC),” Eugene explained. “All of these regulations promote electrical grid reliability. Kind of like OSHA which promotes safety. It’s the same deal on the electrical side.”

Before joining City Light, Eugene served in the Navy for nine years. During his tenure, he attended the Navy’s Nuclear Electronic Technician School. “It was a fantastic hands-on experience,” Eugene said. While in the Navy, he also attended The New School in New York state and graduated with a degree in human resources management. “My career is nowhere near the subject I studied in school,” Eugene shared with a laugh.

Eugene and his wife Kirsten are high school sweethearts who have been married for 17 years. They live in Black Diamond with their two daughters, Claire and Chloe. “Spending time with my girls is my favorite thing to do – even if it’s just picking raspberries in the backyard,” Eugene said.

In this week’s (spot)Light, Eugene talks about his time in the Navy and shares a few of his hobbies.

Eugene with his family at Rattlesnake Ridge

“Work’s been dynamic recently. The industry has been fast-paced in keeping up with technology and other advancements. We’ve been busy with different projects. We recently turned over an entire suite of standards that impact the system control center. That was substantial. Our team also helped to ensure that the Denny substation was brought in correctly on the compliance side.”

“I served as an Electronics Technician in the Navy – it’s kind of how I got started in this field. I went to South Carolina where I did some of my schooling and eventually transferred to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in Everett. From there, I went to New York where I taught for three and a half years. I absolutely loved teaching as an instructor in New York. The Navy was a great experience for me. I was able to travel the world, meet new people and learn so much from my time as an instructor and as a student. My favorite place I visited was Australia. It was a three-week port call which made for a lot of fun. The extended time gave us more opportunity to explore.”

“I still love to travel. My wife and I go camping in Nehalem Bay in Oregon. We’ve made it our annual camping trip these past five years. It’s just beautiful. The kids love playing in the creeks. My wife and I are rock hounds, so we’re always looking for interesting finds.  We like looking for agate rocks in the waters down there. Another favorite hobby of mine is shed horn hunting. It requires a lot of hiking and gets you out in the wilderness. Over the years, I’ve collected some beautiful antlers. I plan to start making items out of them. So far, I’ve made a coat rack and a towel hanger. I want to build a lamp or chandelier and maybe some furniture like a bench or stool.”