Our new strategic plan to keep delivering essential services, controlling costs, and fighting climate change

The Seattle area is growing and evolving – and Seattle City Light is poised to respond.

Over the past several months, we’ve worked with Mayor Jenny Durkan to develop a new six-year Strategic Plan that reflects our shared priorities and addresses some of the challenges we face as a utility, like changing energy usage, declining retail energy consumption and an aging workforce.

To tackle those challenges, we’ve developed a plan that focuses on four priority areas:

  • Strategies to control costs, capture new revenues and restructure rates
  • Modernizing customer service
  • Promoting the efficient use of clean energy
  • And investments in infrastructure and the workforce to provide a consistent level of service, reliability and response.

To help control our costs, we responded to Mayor Durkan’s direction to all City departments to identify budget reductions from our proposed 2019-2020 proposed budget.

We will be reducing our operations and maintenance budget by 6 percent, beginning with an initial and permanent cut of $18 million in 2019.  Additionally, capital spending will be curtailed over the six-year plan 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.

But Mayor Durkan was clear: She directed us to adjust our plan, to identify more areas where we could control costs and therefore reduce the impact on ratepayers. We did just that and developed a reduced budget proposal that incorporates a lower “rate path” over the six-year plan.

The new plan Mayor Durkan submitted to the City Council 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.

What’s next?

Our proposed plan will be presented to a City Council Select Committee on June 14 and June 28. Then it will be considered by the full City Council.

Given our long history of innovation and visionary action, we are confident we will successfully navigate the challenges we face and reach new heights as we keep customers’ bills affordable and stable. We power Seattle, and we’re proud of it.

For more details, you can read our proposed Strategic Plan here.

Candidate Sought for Seattle City Light Review Panel

Mayor Ed Murray is currently seeking a candidate to serve on the Seattle City Light Review Panel. The Review Panel, established in 2010, plays an important role in providing input and engagement of City Light ratepayers in the development and review of the utility’s biennial update to the 6 year Strategic Business Plan. The Review Panel is also tasked with reviewing electricity rate changes, assessing City Light’s electricity rate design and considering implementation of cost allocation among customer classes.

The current vacant panel position is designated for an economist or similar profession, preferably with experience in energy economics or commodity risk management.

For more details regarding the Review Panel participation, including the time commitment to attend regular, monthly meetings, please visit this link: http://www.seattle.gov/citylightreviewpanel

This position is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council to serve renewable three-year term. Qualified candidates will be screened and forwarded to the Mayor’s Office for consideration. To be considered for appointment by the Mayor to the Seattle City Light Review Panel, please send a letter of interest and resume by Monday, July 3, 2017 to:

Seattle City Light
Attn: Michael Jones
700 Fifth Avenue
Suite 3200
Seattle, WA 98104

Or by email at SCL_CLRPquestions@seattle.gov.


An Invitation to Share Your Thoughts on the Future of Your Electric Service

Seattle City Light is updating its Strategic Plan to provide a progress report on your electricity service and outline the utility’s strategy for meeting the challenges of the next six years and beyond.

Your voice matters in this process. We invite you to share your thoughts in a survey about what the utility should be focused on in order to best serve you, our customer-owners.

While the Strategic Plan’s foundation remains unchanged, there are several initiatives under consideration in this update to help plan for a challenging future:

  • Efforts to replace fossil fuels with clean electricity to power transportation.
  • Taking action to adapt utility operations to prepare for and be less vulnerable to climate change.
  • And becoming a more agile utility that is better able to adjust to the fast pace of change from the increased use of solar power, battery storage and other technologies.

You can access the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/strategicplanupdatecustomer

To learn more about Seattle City Light’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, please visit the Strategic Plan website.

Costs Rise for Future Denny Substation

The proposed Denny Substation design.

Design changes added in the permitting process, higher prices for electrical equipment, a construction delay and additional soil cleanup have increased the anticipated cost of Seattle City Light’s future Denny Substation by $27.4 million, the utility announced today.

Higher costs for the substation will not result in higher electricity prices for City Light customers. City Light is reprioritizing other capital projects within the overall Denny program to stay within the rate path called for in the utility’s six-year Strategic Plan.

“Building something as complex as a substation in a fully developed urban area is challenging and often requires adjustments along the way,” City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs said. “At the 30 percent design phase, the substation project was expected to cost $173.6 million. We have now completed the 90 percent design phase and the updated estimate is $209.5 million. The utility is looking to offset some of this increase with $8.5 million to be realized by selling part of the land that has no utility function after construction.”

Several factors are adding costs to the project.

Revisions to the design of electrical equipment to adjust to new industry standards and safety regulations were required. Subsequently, bids for some of the electrical equipment came in higher than expected based on an earlier market survey. During the environmental cleanup of the construction site, crews had to remove more soil contamination than initial testing indicated. During review by the Seattle Design Commission, enhancements for community spaces at the facility were required for approval. And a seven-month delay in construction added to the utility’s financing costs.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Seattle Parks and Recreation planning for the future of community centers

Seattle Parks and Recreation is developing a Community Center Strategic Plan. The department is creating a vision for the future of community centers and considering options for future staffing and programs. Seattle Parks is seeking public input to inform the plan. There will be a community meeting on June 20 to explore the following questions:

  • What community center programs and services do you value most and why?
  • How can Seattle Parks and Recreation improve our programs and services?
  • What are the barriers to using community centers?

The public is invited to attend the meeting to learn more and help shape Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Community Center Strategic Plan.

Saturday, June 20, 2015
Seattle Center – Fisher Pavilion
305 Harrison Street
Seattle, WA 98109
10 a.m. – Noon, Presentation at 10 a.m.

Questions and comments may be addressed to Susan Golub, Seattle Parks Manager of Policy, at susan.golub@seattle.gov.

For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/ccstrategicplan.