There’s nothing better than Seattle in the summertime. But with temperatures approaching 80 degrees this Fourth of July, you may be looking for ways to beat the heat. Here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy* on how to keep cool and conserve energy without breaking the bank! Check out this month’s issue of Light Reading for more innovative ways to conserve energy this summer from planting a tree to using your slow cooker. Click here to take a look!
Each year, Market Strategies International runs the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement Survey (.pdf) for its Cogent Reports. The survey spans the markets of 131 residential electric, natural gas and electric/gas combination utilities across four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. For the fourth year in a row, the survey results led to City Light being named an Environmental Champion.
To be designated an Environmental Champion, a utility must facilitate consumption management, enable environmental causes, encourage environmentally friendly fleets and buildings, and generally show its customers a dedication to promoting clean energy. These traits comprise the survey’s Environmental Dedication Index. City Light was one of the highest-rated utilities in the study, scoring second in the West region on the survey index.
In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the nation to reach carbon neutral status. The utility is actively involved in protecting fish and wildlife, promotes renewable energy development and has the longest-running energy conservation program in the country.
Thanks to the generous contributions of Seattle City Light customers, seven local organizations will receive Green Up grants totaling nearly $1 million to support renewable energy projects and education. The seven organizations will use the grants to help install solar panels at 14 public school, affordable housing, and community-based locations.
“Over 13,000 generous community members are investing in a clean, sustainable energy future by sending a few dollars each month to purchase renewable energy credits through our Green Up program,” said City Light Customer Energy Solutions Director Craig Smith. “City Light is proud to be the steward of this grant and part of the community partnership that will benefit our schools, affordable housing, parks, and hospitals.”
Grant recipients are:
- Seattle Public Schools – $150,000 for solar installations at Bailey Gatzert Elementary, Ballard High School, Denny International Middle School, South Shore K-8 School, Hazel Wolf K-8 ESTEM School and Arbor Heights Elementary
- King County Parks — $119,014 for a solar installation at the Steve Cox Community Center
- Seattle Parks — $50,000 for a solar installation at the Brig at Magnuson Park
- Seattle Colleges — $200,000 for a solar installation at Seattle Central College
- Harborview Medical Center — $50,000 for a solar installation at the hospital
- Capitol Hill Housing – three grants totaling $225,000 for solar installations at three affordable housing complexes – the Elizabeth James House, Ponderosa Apartments and El Nor Apartments
- Pacific Science Center — $164,851 for a solar installation at the center
“We will soon be able to power the White Center community center and the adjacent basketball court using only clean, renewable energy,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “Our partnership with Seattle City Light will accelerate the work we are doing to transform Steve Cox Memorial Park into a model for sustainable operations.”
“Seattle Public Schools’ goal is to optimize energy conservation through cost-effective practices. We are grateful for the Seattle community members who contribute to Green Up and to Seattle City Light for this grant of $150,000. It will help us fund an energy efficiency project utilizing solar technology at six of our schools,” said Flip Herndon, Seattle Public Schools’ associate superintendent of capital, facilities and operations.
“We are thrilled to receive a Green Up grant award from Seattle City Light. With this award, Pacific Science Center will be installing a rooftop solar panel array, not only to make our campus more energy efficient, but also to create hands-on guest experiences focused on renewable energy,” said Chris Wheaton, Chief Operating & Financial Officer of Pacific Science Center. “We’re looking forward to introducing our community to a real-word application of clean tech innovation, enabled by Seattle City Light’s generosity and leadership.”
“This grant will allow us reduce the operating costs of our buildings and serve more low-income families and individuals. It’s a great way to keep renewable energy credits local and ensures that the beneficiaries are local residents who need it the most,” said McCaela Daffern, Capitol Hill Housing sustainability manager.
ABOUT GREEN UP
Green Up is a voluntary program that allows City Light customers to support renewable energy development and education by donating an extra $3 or more on their utility bills. Green Up funds are used to purchase renewable energy credits, and remaining contributions are used to pay for projects such as Sonic Bloom at Pacific Science Center and solar installations on three residence halls at the University of Washington. The program has expanded to provide direct grant funding for solar or other renewable energy installations and education projects in Seattle City Light’s service territory. To learn more, visit: http://www.seattle.gov/light/Greenup/
Interested in contributing to Green Up? Sign up here: http://www.seattle.gov/light/Greenup/for-home.asp
Solar and innovation grants of up to $200,000 were awarded for renewable energy installations by public, nonprofit or educational organizations with a system size of less than 100 kilowatts. Projects must be connected to City Light’s distribution grid and equipped with a monitoring system. Education grants of up to $5,000 support projects that have a focus on educating students about renewable energy, such as curriculum development, research, extracurricular activities, supplies and teacher training.
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.
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.
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 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.
Rapid growth in the installation of solar energy systems is pushing Seattle City Light to the state-imposed cap for solar production incentives.
City Light anticipates reaching the limit for incentives, which is set as a percentage of the utility’s revenue, during the state’s 2016 fiscal year (July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016). Solar customers should expect to see a proportional reduction in incentive payments.
Among the reasons City Light is about to reach its cap are:
- A trend toward the installation of larger solar systems
- Sunnier weather that has increased solar production
- And decreasing retail electricity sales for the utility.
At this time, City Light estimates that the proportional reduction in incentive payments for solar customers will be 31 percent for the state’s 2016 fiscal year.
Solar customers receive a variety of additional benefits for engaging in solar generation. Benefits include federal solar investment Tax Credit, Washington State sales tax exemption for systems less than 10 kilowatts and net metering benefits. These benefits will not be affected by the incentive payment reduction.
To stay updated on details of the solar incentive cap, visit the City Light Solar Incentive Website at http://www.seattle.gov/light/solarenergy/incentivecap.asp .
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.
Today, Seattle City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs issued the following statement in support of President Obama’s new Clean Power Plan after the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) released final regulations that will, for the first time, set federal carbon emission limits for existing power plants:
“Seattle City Light, a carbon neutral utility since 2005, has long advocated for action to address climate change and supports EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
“We believe that the impact of climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the electric industry. Research we have undertaken and our recently developed Climate Adaptation Plan shows that climate change has significant effects on the reliability of our system.
“Utilities such as Seattle City Light that depend on hydropower face loss of snow pack and glaciers as well as increased frequency and severity of floods on our rivers. Overall, the industry will face increased risk of fire, sea level rise, severe storms and landslides that threaten power lines. For these reasons, we urged the Obama Administration to ensure that the final rule delivers meaningful emission reductions from existing power plants and encourages investment in clean energy technologies.
“Seattle City Light will continue to invest in energy efficiency for our customers and in environmentally sound renewables. While we are still reviewing the details of the plan, we are confident that the final rule provides the states the flexibility needed to design their program implementation to address state specific characteristics and impacts. Seattle City Light looks forward to working with Washington State and other stakeholders as we develop a strong and effective state implementation plan.”
In addition to a requirement for large utilities to have 15 percent of their energy portfolios come from new renewable energy resources by 2020, the law also outlines energy conservation targets to be met every two years.
City Light used the Utility Analysis Option to set our two-year conservation target. City Light completed a Conservation Potential Assessment in 2014 to identify achievable and cost-effective energy conservation potential.
This study identified a biennial energy conservation potential of 207,437 megawatt-hours for 2014-2015 and a 10-year conservation potential of 1,037,184 megawatt-hours. The Seattle City Council adopted these targets with Resolution #31487.
City Light is ahead of pace in meeting the 2014-2015 goal. Through the end of 2014, City Light achieved 159,033 megawatt-hours of savings. That means halfway through the reporting period, the utility has already achieved 76.7 percent of its 2014-2015 biennial target. City Light relied on Bonneville Power Administration’s IS 2.0 reporting system to capture all its energy conservation savings for 2014, which reflects the most current data available as of May 2015.
City Light is required to submit a report on its progress in meeting the conservation targets to the Washington Department of Commerce by June 1.
In 2015, City Light needs to have I-937 eligible renewable energy resources equivalent to 3 percent of retail sales. City Light will meet this requirement with our purchase of energy produced by the Stateline Wind Project, the Priest Rapids dam and Wanapum dam, and renewable energy credits we get from our purchase from the Bonneville Power Administration.
In 2016, the target increases to 9 percent of sales. City Light will meet this requirement with contracts already signed with geothermal, biomass, bio-gas, and wind-powered projects in the Northwest.