The Impact of the Solar Eclipse on City Light’s Energy Production

On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, the Seattle area will experience its first solar eclipse since 1979. While the path of totality — where the moon’s shadow will completely block out the sun to viewers on Earth — runs through central Oregon, 92 percent of the sun will still be eclipsed above the greater Seattle region.

Since this phenomenon rarely occurs in our area, you may be curious whether a solar eclipse will severely impact the region’s solar energy production, or even if your service will be interrupted during its duration.

We have good news for you: It won’t be as much of an issue as you may think.

“Even if the sky is clear on Monday morning, the solar panels will most likely lose only two percent of what they would normally generate during that time of day,” explains City Light’s Director of Power Management Wayne Morter. “The peak generation of solar power, around 60 to 70 percent, actually happens in the afternoon around 1 p.m.”

If an issue related to solar energy production were to arise, City Light is prepared. We constantly follow energy load trends to ensure there will be enough energy to meet the needs of our customers.

Other energy resources, such as City Light’s Boundary Dam, help balance any dips in energy production. Most of City Light’s power comes from hydroelectric generation, a renewable resource that a boon to our region. In fact, Washington State is the nation’s leading source of hydroelectric power. Concerns about the potential impact of the eclipse upon electric grids are more pressing in California, where solar contributes more than 5 percent of the Golden State’s electricity.

Even though California is leading the charge on solar energy production in the United States, more and more people across Washington are becoming interested in the subject. Whether the sun is shining, covered by clouds or eclipsed by the moon, you can be involved with solar energy at City Light.

City Light customers are installing solar equipment on their homes and businesses in greater numbers every year. Click here for an FAQ and find out if installing a solar electric system in your home or business is a good fit for you.

 

For more information on City Light’s solar energy programs, visit http://www.seattle.gov/light/solarenergy/.

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.

We Power: 10 Seattle Summer Attractions

It takes great power to make the Seattle area as exciting as it is; power that’s fueled by people and technology. Unlike some electric utilities that are driven by investors, City Light is a publicly owned utility which answers to its customers. Together, we power some pretty amazing things and we do it carbon free.

Summer is right around the corner and you’re probably planning your time in the sun right now. Here’s a top 10 list of “we power” summer attractions to help you appreciate how we do things in Seattle.

Publication Updates

Tips

UPDATED

  • Tip 420, Solar Energy Systems, was updated. We made changes to the content in the Production Washington Renewable Energy Incentive section on page 6, and updated the hyperlinks.

 

Director’s Rules

DRAFT

  • DDR 13-2016, Floor Area Limit for Religious Facilities in the SM-SLU 85-240 Zone, clarifies how the Land Use Code applies to floor area ratios for religious facilities in a specific zone. You can send public comments about this draft rule to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, Suite 2000, 700 Fifth Avenue, P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124-4019, no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 5, 2016.
  • DDR 14-2016, Application of Mandatory Housing Affordability for Residential Development (MHA-R) in contract rezones, clarifies how Seattle DCI will apply the new mandatory housing affordability rules for performance and payment in contract rezones. You can send public comments about this draft rule to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, Suite 2000, 700 Fifth Avenue, P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124-4019, no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 5, 2016.
  • DDR 1-2017, Implementation of the Fee Subtitle, Building Valuation Data, updates our Building Valuation Data for 2017. You can send public comments about this draft rule to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, Suite 2000, 700 Fifth Avenue, P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124-4019, no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 16, 2016

Seattle City Light to Participate in Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative

Seattle City Light will participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative as a public utility stakeholder in the Washington State Energy Strategies project team to support the widespread deployment of safe, reliable, and cost-effective solar energy.

City Light will work with other agencies and utilities to identify solar benefits and constraints, and identify strategies to achieve statewide solar goals.

Through SunShot’s State Energy Strategies work, project teams from state energy offices, regional energy providers, and their partners have the opportunity to gain the planning insights that can support their individual goals to maximize solar’s benefits within their various communities.

Eight new projects announced Oct. 20 will help to better inform states how to more effectively adopt solar by providing technical and analytical assistance to help them meet their renewable energy goals. These projects will benefit states at two phases in the solar energy planning process: during the creation of solar deployment targets and identification of strategies to achieve these goals, and then during the implementation of these strategies. For instance, teams may seek technical and informational assistance from the Department of Energy to better understand system performance projections, transmission and distribution constraints, or the economic and environmental benefits of various solar programs and projects.

Here is the Department of Energy’s announcement:

Energy Department Invests $21 Million in 17 Projects to Speed Solar Adoption, Maximize Solar Benefits for States

The Energy Department today announced $21.4 million in funding for 17 new projects to help reduce the “soft costs” commonly found with solar energy, such as installation, permitting, and connecting to the grid. As more U.S. consumers turn toward renewable energy each year, nine of the awards will focus on how the solar industry can sustain and accelerate this growth by understanding the motivations and factors that influence the technology adoption process, particularly in low- and moderate-income communities. The other eight awards will focus on tackling solar market challenges at the state and regional levels through better strategic energy and economic planning.

“Soft costs have been a pervasive barrier to widespread solar energy in the United States,” said Dr. Charlie Gay, Director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office. “Finding new ways to cut these costs remains critical in accelerating solar deployment nationwide and making solar affordable for all Americans.”

The projects announced today are funded by the Department’s SunShot Initiative  and support its ongoing work to enable the widespread deployment of safe, reliable, and cost-effective solar energy by developing strategies and solutions that directly reduce the costs and barriers to solar access and deployment. The projects are funded under two distinct topics:

SOLAR ENERGY EVOLUTION AND DIFFUSION STUDIES (SEEDS)

The SEEDS program leverages decisions based on science and solar datasets to improve our understanding of how and why homeowners and businesses choose solar energy. Nine of the 17 projects announced today will partner researchers with data and energy practitioners to create, analyze, and use solar data and other information in order to examine how solar technologies, the electric grid system, and the institutions that create the solar business marketplace support or inhibit the evolution and diffusion of solar technologies.

This second round of funding under SEEDS introduces two new areas of research interest: low- and moderate-income (LMI) solar adoption and institutional decision-making. Projects focusing on LMI communities will focus on identifying solar adoption barriers other than cost, while identifying ways to more effectively engage these communities in the growing solar marketplace. Projects examining institutional decision-making aim to reveal the factors driving change within institutions as they relate to solar, and how institutions within a given system—for example, one university within a state university system—can influence such change. View the list of awardees.

STATE ENERGY STRATEGIES (SES)

Through SunShot’s SES work project teams from state energy offices, regional energy providers, and their partners have the opportunity to gain the planning insights that can support their individual goals to maximize solar’s benefits within their various communities. Eight new projects announced today will help to better inform states how to more effectively adopt solar by providing technical and analytical assistance to help them meet their renewable energy goals. These projects will benefit states at two phases in the solar energy planning process: during the creation of solar deployment targets and identification of strategies to achieve these goals, and then during the implementation of these strategies. For instance, teams may seek technical and informational assistance from DOE to better understand system performance projections, transmission and distribution constraints, or the economic and environmental benefits of various solar programs and projects.

Teams participating in this program will work to support solar planning efforts in 17 states plus the District of Columbia: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. View the list of awardees.

SunShot supports research and development efforts by non-profit organizations, universities, private industry, and the national laboratories to make solar power affordable and accessible for all Americans.