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Seattle Promotes Innovation in Achieving Energy Efficiency

Today, Mayor McGinn announced an innovative approach to helping commercial electric utility customers achieve energy savings through a pay-for-performance approach.


Mayor Mike McGinn announces the 3-year, pay-for-performance pilot project at the Pacific Science Center.


Today, Mayor McGinn announced an innovative approach to helping commercial electric utility customers achieve energy savings. The Mayor announced a three- year pilot project that will test an energy conservation concept known as “pay for performance.”

“The city is looking for ways to help businesses be creative in their approach to saving energy,” McGinn said. “Rather than prescribing how businesses achieve energy savings, we will seek three commercial office buildings to partner with us in developing innovative and verifiable approaches for conservation.”

Seattle City Light plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) early in November.

“City Light will provide financial incentives through annual payments for incremental energy savings, as opposed to a one-time rebate,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said.  “We are looking for partners who can create a modeling tool that can be replicated for future investments.  We want to see greater energy savings based on our customers’ power use.  City Light receives the benefit of actual delivered energy savings performance, with limited financial risk.”  

When this pilot program starts, City Light believes it will be the only one of its kind in the country.


City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco discusses the pay-for-performance approach.


City Light is targeting three commercial office buildings in this initial pilot.  Proposers can combine capital, operations and maintenance, and behavioral change activities in their responses.  The utility will be reviewing the modeling tools used by customers or their partners to estimate energy savings.  Energy savings achieved will qualify for incentives at 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. Customer participants will be responsible for documenting their energy-saving actions and reporting on a monthly basis with a detailed annual report summarizing key initiatives and results.

“Another benefit of this program will be the results that are generated,” said Stan Price, executive director of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council.  “City Light will be sharing information with other utilities and organizations in the region.  This is great partnering approach for realizing some potentially significant energy savings.”

Seattle City Light has a 35-year history of innovation in energy conservation programs and was the first utility in the country to include conservation as an energy resource.  Since the mid-1970s, City Light has saved more than 17 million megawatt-hours of energy – enough electricity to power the households of five cities the size of Seattle for a year.

In 2011, City Light conservation programs helped customers reduce their energy consumption by 1.1 million megawatt-hours. That’s enough electricity to power 124,000 Seattle homes – one third of the utility’s residential service. Customers who participated in conservation programs reduced their City Light bills by a combined $797 million.

City Light programs also avoided the release of more than 663,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2011. That’s the equivalent of taking 146,000 cars off the road for a year.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.