Seattle City Light Targets Old Commercial Lighting for Upgrades

Seattle City Light will start recruiting workers Sunday for eight positions tied to a progressive program designed to help businesses quickly replace obsolete, energy-wasting lighting with new, efficient lighting.

Seattle City Light will start recruiting workers Sunday for eight positions tied to a progressive program designed to help businesses quickly replace obsolete, energy-wasting lighting with new, efficient lighting.

 The Quick Lighting Upgrade Initiative will use $750,000 in federal stimulus package money to hire assistant energy management analysts, a contract administrator and a program coordinator part-time for 18 months. City Light anticipates being able to hire military veterans with some energy management training to fill most of the jobs.

City Light is providing an additional $2 million for enhanced incentives to encourage businesses with T12 fluorescent lighting, incandescent bulbs or fluorescent- or incandescent exit signs to upgrade to energy efficient T8 fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED exit signs. With the enhanced incentives, qualified businesses will be able to upgrade their lighting at little or no cost and immediately lower their electricity bills.

“With this program, Seattle City Light will conserve energy, provide financial relief to area businesses, and create green jobs in our community,” Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “Energy conservation helps us meet growing demand without building a new power plant or buying electricity on the open market, which helps keep rates low for all our customers and reduces our impact on the environment.”

The energy efficient lighting being installed uses about 30 percent less electricity than the systems it will replace. It also will last longer and provide better performance. The replacement program is projected to save 6.7 million Kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

That’s enough electricity to power about 742 Seattle homes and will save participants about $369,000 on their energy bills.

It also avoids about 4,400 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of taking 887 cars off the road for a year.

The program reinforces City Light’s position as a national leader in energy conservation. City Light is not aware of any other utility in the United States that is offering a similar program to its customers.

Overhead T12 fluorescent tube fixtures were the most popular lighting option for commercial buildings before 1990. Despite previous incentives that would pay 70 percent of an upgrade, an estimated 450,000 fixtures are still in use at thousands of businesses in Seattle City Light’s service territory, consuming an extra 200 million Kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.   

“Whether it was the up-front costs of replacements, not recognizing the savings that could be achieved, or something else, those customers have continued to use their old lighting fixtures,” Carrasco said. “We want to make it easy for them to make a change for the better.”

When a business applies for the program, City Light workers would inspect the building to ensure that qualified lighting was in place, and approve an offer to upgrade.  The business owner would then work with a local contractor to install new lighting, with the bill paid by the utility after an inspection proved the work had been completed.

Businesses that want to be placed on a waiting list, can contact City Light’s Conservation Resources Division at (206) 684-3800 or by email at quicklighting@seattle.gov.

Anyone who is interested in applying for one of the lighting upgrade jobs can find more information at http://www.seattle.gov/personnel/employment/ .